Friday, 25 October 2013

Let's Set The Bar High

Tuesday night's game between Boston and Buffalo was interesting if you looked at the history of the two teams, but one player made things a lot more heated with his latest move. John Scott was already involved in one questionable situation involving Phil Kessel. Now Scott has taken things to a whole new level by trying to decapitate Boston's Loui Eriksson long after the puck left his stick. Quite frankly, Brendan Shanahan has a chance to set the bar to a new height with this in-person hearing that he will have with John Scott. It's time that Shanny and his team re-define the standards.

First, let's go back and take a look at Tuesday night's incident. Personally, it's ugly and it makes me angry to watch this, but it needs to be discussed. Here's the video.
The obvious needs to be stated: John Scott is an idiot. There are a pile of things wrong with what he did, but the image that keeps flashing through my mind right now is Marc Savard being laid out by Matt Cooke in the same manner. If that prompted Matt Cooke to change his game to try and shed his cheap shot reputation, I want Shanahan to implement a "game-changing suspension" for garbage like this.

First, the hit is beyond late as the puck is already in a different zone when Scott throws his dirty hit. There is a full second that elapses between the time that the puck comes off Eriksson's stick and the time when Scott uses his elbow and shoulder as a weapon. Late hit? Strike one.

Secondly, Scott makes no effort to avoid the head area of Loui Eriksson. The crackdown on checks to the head has been heard around the league for a couple of years now at least, and yet here's John Scott throwing caution to the wind and delivering a check that is primarily focused on the head of Eriksson. I'm pretty sure that's strike two.

Third, Eriksson is in a somewhat vulnerable position in terms of Scott delivering that hit, and that's something else the league is reviewing when looking at these types of hits. Because Scott capitalized on Eriksson's inability to defend himself from the hit, chalk up another strike.

If Raffi Torres can get 25 games for his hit in the playoffs on Marian Hossa, there is a precedent set for Mr. Shanahan to follow on this one. In fact, he should send a clear message that will wake all the players up. I don't think that one can issue a suspension for longer than 25 games without some sort of prior offence, but Shanahan should draw a clear line in the sand regarding this type of hit.

Secondly, since he got off with little more than a slap on the wrist for his part in sending Scott over the boards that instigated the preseason brawl when he went after Phil Kessel, Ron Ralston and the Buffalo Sabres should be fined for this hit. If you want a coach and/or management to send a clear message to a player, hit them where it hurts: their pocketbooks. If John Scott believes he can play this way regularly, then he's not getting the message. It's time to have his actions affect someone else who can help him change his ways or keep him off the ice. Either way, both result in better hockey.

Brendan Shanahan has one clear goal here: send a message. It has to be loud, it has to be extreme, and it has to be over-the-top. If the NHL Player Safety Department is truly interested in, y'know, player safety, Mr. Shanahan should damn John Scott for his actions on Tuesday. It might be the only way that some of these cementheads get the message.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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