The Buffalo Sabres just completed an absolute revamp of their entire front office. Gone are longtime GM Darcy Regier and first-year coach Ron Rolston, in come new President of Hockey Operations Pat LaFontaine and replacement coach Ted Nolan. It was an attempt to turn the fortunes of the struggling team around, as they’ve had more than a few issues stringing wins together this season.
Along with their minimal numbers in the win column, the team has also had more than a couple run-ins with the NHL discipline committee. Patrick Kaleta was handed a ten game suspension for an illegal hit on Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson. He has since been demoted to the minors until his playing style changes. Meanwhile, forward John Scott has been stirring up issues seemingly every time he hits the ice. Everyone remembers the full-scale brawl he started during a preseason bout against the Toronto Maple Leafs when he challenged Phil Kessel to a fight and ended up chasing him down the ice. Later in the season, he threw a head shot to Boston Bruins winger Loui Eriksson that left him concussed and Scott serving a suspension. This latest incident resulted in heavy media scorn being sent Scott’s way, with many wondering what purpose a player who has five total points in five years actually serves in the league.
Well, Scott is reportedly making his return tomorrow night, ironically in game one of a home-and-home series with Toronto. However, he’s apparently working towards trying to rid himself of his “goon” label.
“I’ve always had that in the back of my mind, not just a meat head like some GM’s and coaches peg me to be,” Scott said. “I think I have a responsibility with my size, I think the headshot is key there . . . I have to be more responsible on the ice. I guess I’d have to back off (when he sees a dangerous hit). When I get to a player, I’ve got to be aware of where I am and try to minimize it if I know he’s in a bad spot, just back off a bit.”
Saying he plans on cleaning his game up is one thing, acting on it is another. He’ll get a true test of patience right away this weekend. Common logic says the Leafs may come after him thanks to the sideshow he created the last time he skated against them. For what it’s worth, Scott thinks he’ll make it through the games incident free.
“I think it’s being blown out of proportion, something that happened in the pre-season. I don’t think anything will happen,” he said. “I don’t know, it’s an important game and I won’t be lining up and trying to fight someone. It’s an important game for us and for them and if it happens, then it happens. But I don’t think the Leafs will risk penalties coming after me.”