I had the "pleasure" of being at the game last night between the Sabres and their rival Bruins. Even though it might have been painful it was apparently much better than having to listen to Mike Milbury rant about how John Scott is a goon and shouldn't be in the league.
First off, the hit last night was dirty - there's no arguing that. I don't know if it was intentional but I don't see any signs to point that it was for sure. It was late and I honestly think he just misjudged how quick Erikkson was standing up after the pass and made contact with his head. Easy case for Shanahan as head shots are not tolerated whether they were intentional or not. With Scott scheduled for an in person hearing I would guess that he's getting the 5 game standard for a head shot with a first time offender.
Also, there's no arguing that Scott is not a great hockey player. He's averaged 5-6 minutes a game throughout his career. In 187 games he has 1 goal and 4 assists. This year he's a fourth line player on a horrible hockey team so those stats aren't going to suddenly improve, except maybe his ice time. Add to that his purpose in this league, to be big and physical. Yes, last night crossed the line but he was brought to Buffalo for his size and nothing else. That doesn't mean to "fight and injure".
Now, when you think of goons you think of leading the league in dirty penalty minutes and suspensions galore. While he certainly has plenty of PIMs in his career, Scott has actually never been suspended (until now). This is his 6th NHL season and he's not ever once been in front of Campbell or now Shanahan for issues. That doesn't seem to be goon material to me.
Add to that penalty minutes. It might not be a great indicator but last year Scott played most of the season (34 games) and only had 69 penalty minutes, not bad for a guy that's a "fighter" for the team. Granted, his TOI/game was 5:26 but there are 14 players ahead of him on that list that also saw under 10 minutes of ice per game, including Colton Orr who lead the league with 155 PIM with 6:23 of ice time per game.
If there was a fighting depth chart for the Sabres I would put him 3rd behind McCormick and Kaleta. So even in that respect he's not the team's lead "goon".
Another thing that bothers me with this is when did the idea of a line that can "sway momentum" with some "energy" become a bad thing? Don't all teams have this? Haven't people for years (Milbury included) promoted the idea of sending guys like Scott or Kaleta out to try to regain some momentum? Just because Scott is bad at hockey he can't be on a line like that?
So yes, Scott is a physical player. His purpose when he is out there is to hit guys. I wouldn't say, as some might, his only purpose is to fight and injure considering he's never been suspended in a suspension-happy league. Don't get me wrong, he deserves a suspension for the hit last night but he doesn't deserve 7 minutes of degrading by Mike Milbury, who I would like personally like to tee off on for about 7 minutes - how is this guy on TV again?
The only good thing about Milbury's rant was calling for Rolston to be fired which I think many of us agree needs to happen. And who cares about the fight, why do you have your fourth line on the ice when you need to sway momentum back in your direction because you're 2 goals down? (Ed Note: Yesterday on Twitter, Eric at @3rdManIn went over the replay and saw that the fourth line simply came on the ice to give the other three lines a breather, who had just all played consecutively. I don't think there was any "player selection" issue here at all.)
Either way we won't be seeing Scott on the ice any time soon, but how long that will be is in the hands of Shanahan and we should have an answer sometime soon. As for Milbury, maybe Scott should beat someone with a shoe next time to gain his approval.