Thursday, October 24, 2013

Please, NHL Stop The Headhunters

If you read this blog, you know that I am a Boston Bruins fan. I've wanted to write about this for a while and the incident in last night's game between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres was the last straw for me.

Forget that I'm a Bruins fan, what John Scott did to Bruins forward Loui Eriksson, was despicable, cowardly and against all common sense and was just a dirty, cheap, vile hit.

The NHL has been on a mission for the past three years to rid the game of head hits. Having lost such good players as Phildaelphia Flyers Chris Pronger, Boston Bruins Marc Savard and almost losing the face of the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins Sydney Crosby, the league has sent a mandate to stop this behavior.

How is it working out?
The 2013-2014 season so far has had far too many head hits.

Dallas Stars Ryan Garbutt was just handed a 5 game suspension yesterday for a hit on Anaheim Ducks Dustin Penner.
New York Islanders Michael Grabner got 2 games for a head hit on Carolina Hurricanes (and former Sabre) Nathan Gerbe.

Here is a list of suspensions so far this year (including preseason)

Regular Season

Ryan GarbuttDAL10/23/20135 games for charging
Michael GrabnerNYI10/21/20132 games for hit to the head
Cody McLeodCOL10/21/20135 games for boarding
Maxim LapierreSTL10/18/20135 games for boarding
Patrick KaletaBUF10/15/201310 games for hit to the head
Alex EdlerVAN10/11/20133 games for hit to the head
Brad StuartSJ10/8/20133 games for elbowing


Phil KesselTOR09/24/20133 pre-season games for slashing
David ClarksonTOR09/23/201310 games for leaving the bench during altercation
Zack KassianVAN09/23/20135 regular season, 3 pre-season games for high stick
Dale WeiseVAN09/23/20133 pre-season games for illegal check to head
Teemu PulkkinenDET09/19/20134 pre-season games for boarding
Adam ErneTB09/19/20133 pre-season games for illegal check to head
Paul BissonnettePHX09/16/201310 games (reduced to 3) for leaving the bench during altercation 
Source: TSN 

If you look at the list, you'll see that among the head hits, Buffalo Sabres Patrick Kaleta is listed for 10 games for a hit to the head.

Here's the NHL suspension video for Kaleta narrated by former player and current NHL Vice President of Hockey and Business Development and Director of Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan

This is what is known as a predatory hit and the head is the point of contact. This type of hitting has no place in the game, or any game for that matter. The NFL is also trying to rid the game of such hits.

So what do we have after the Kaleta suspension? (Kaleta is appealing the 10 game hit by the way)

Here's the situation: The Sabres are down 4-2 in the third period, Sabres coach, Ron Rolston sends out 6' 8" 260 lb. John Scott. Scott is averaging 4:57 (7:06 career) of ice time so far this year and has 1 goal and 4 assists in 180 career games. So it's safe to say that Rolston didn't have Scott out there to try to get within a goal in a tight game early in the third period.

Let's take a look at Scott in a preaseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs:

Scott lines up against Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel and likely told Kessel he was going to fight him. Kessel retalites by swinging his stick at Scott and rightfully wound up getting suspended. Kessel is no fighter by any means and it's clear to see in the video that Scott is much bigger. 

Loui Eriksson is no fighter either.

Last night Scott went after Eriksson well after Eriksson passed the puck in the neutral zone. Scott cocks his elbow and delivers a head shot to Eriksson just as he begins to turn and see Scott heading toward him.
Eriksson is in a defenseless position and is not in possession of the puck. Scott had plenty of time to either hit through the body (which would have still been a late hit and not likely called) or pull up.

As you can see, Scott does neither and draws his elbow in then extends it into Eriksson's jaw. 

There is no place in hockey or any sport for this. Sabres coach Rolston is very much to blame for this because he sent Scott out there in a close game. Scott, as Bruins head coach Claude Julien said "He's only out there for two reasons: to fight, and hurt."

There's no reason for a "player" like Scott to occupy a roster spot on any team in the NHL. The Sabres are a team that has been poorly mismanaged for many years. Instead of trying to build the team through the draft and smart free agent signings or trades, they have decided to give their fans the illusion that they are not going to be pushed around.

Last night's game was billed as NBC Sportsnet's Wednesday Rivalry game. There's not much of a rivalry from the Bruins perspective as the Sabres aren't really that good. They came into last night's game at 1-8-1 and left it 1-9-1 as the Bruins defeated them 5-2.

For most of the night, the Sabres played uninspired, listless, disinterested hockey. They got within one goal when it was 2-1 in the second period and then started playing with a little more jump and urgency. But the Bruins are a far better team and pulled ahead 3-1 then 4-1 and then Buffalo got it to 4-2. 

Enter John Scott.

For once, I happen to agree with former Bruins player and coach, Mike Milbury (who is no stranger to acting like an idiot on and off the ice - but he is dead on about this)

Both Milbury and Keith Jones are right; John Scott does not belong in this league and coach Rolston should be held accountable. Milbury and Jones are calling for Rolston to be fired.

I agree and they shouldn't stop there, General Manger Darcy Regier needs to go too.If I was a Sabres fan I'd be calling for him to be removed and start over with young kids. There's nothing wrong with building from the bottom up and putting out a team that hustles, plays hard and plays CLEAN.

The Buffalo Sabres are a disgrace to the NHL and to hockey and the NHL has to send a message that this type of play and coaching should be taken out of the game forever.

Oh, and if any Sabres fans want to bring up the Ryan Miller - Milan Lucic incident, you're on the wrong planet. Lucic pushed the puck ahead and was skating full speed and Miller came way out of his crease. If you think Lucic a) had time to stop and/or avoid Miller or b) think it was intentional, go buy a pair of skates, get out on the ice and get back to me when you get a clue.

Lucic was not suspended for this and rightfully so. Miller came out too far.

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