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Vulgar Opinions: The Truth About John Scott (NSFW)

10/24/13

By now you’ve seen it; John Scott planted a shoulder into the chest and head of Loui Eriksson, extended his elbow and put him on his back, and then later into the dressing room to be evaluated for concussion symptoms.  The league-wide reaction to this was swift and severe with actual media people who are held to standards and a certain objectivity saying that Rolston should be fired solely for John Scott performing that particular act.  That was the worst of it, but pretty much across the board everyone who isn’t a Sabres fan (and many who are) were calling for Scott’s and/or Rolston’s heads.

These aren’t bad opinions to have (okay, the fire Rolston one is), but they occupy the tiniest sliver of extreme tunnel vision.  The media tends to treat such incidents with gross fucking stupidity, frothing at the mouth over how many games the offending player will be suspended.  Yes, the purpose of these suspensions is to enact justice, but to the larger picture the purpose is to prevent such incidents from happening in the future by making the potential consequences for reckless play not worth performing the act.  Funny how the media never seems to hit that part.  We just get caught up in the never ending bitchfest about whether or not a punishment was fair.  We need to alter the parameters of this god damn discussion.  No more fair vs. not fair.  No more, what should he get?  Let’s ask, will this deter players, yes or no?  If it’s no, add more games and repeat until we have it right.

And it really doesn’t fucking matter what Goon A gets because there are Goons B through Z on almost every other team playing the same way.  What did John Scott just do that Frazer McLaren or Eric Boulton, or Chris Thorburn, or Colton Orr can’t?  Or hell, what about Shawn Thornton, Milan Lucic, and Zdeno Chara?  I’m supposed to get madder at Scott because those guys play more?  A brain splatters the same way regardless of ice time, right Max Pacioretty?

But you know what, let’s talk about goons for a minute.  Let’s talk about how they’re the scum of the NHL and how Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard, and Wade Belak knew what they were getting into.  After all, they’re just faceless gladiators that engage in bloodsport for our entertainment and fulfill our lust for the violence that the NHL continually glorifies.  Oh, that’s harsh?  No shit, but what inference am I supposed to draw when Zenon Konpka fights 33 times in 74 games in 2009-2010 and no one bats an eye, but THE SECOND, any one of those guys TOUCHES a real player suddenly they need to be banished from the NHL forever?

To hear the media sound off last night, you’d think that John Scott is some sort of aberration and that Ron Rolston is a crazy person for using him in games.  Uh…that player is actually pretty common league wide, depending on how you define “goon.”  But for the sake of being fairly strict, let’s say “averages more than 10 fights a year, has never topped 20 points in an NHL season, and plays less than 10 minutes a night. ” How many players on how many teams does that leave you with?  10?  15?  How about 29 players on 24 teams?  Don’t believe me?

Goons Chart

 

Notice that if you scale back to fewer than ten points that still leaves 21 guys (since Pelech’s high came in the AHL).  So let’s be abundantly clear, enforcers are a league-wide problem.  Not a Buffalo problem, not a Ron Rolston problem, not even an Atlantic Division problem.  They’re EVERYWHERE.  By the way, the number of players that merely average over 10 fights a year playing in the NHL right now?  46.

But even more damning to the media who reacted severely and emotionally, let’s look at the suspensions for this season:

  • Ryan Garbutt
  • Michael Grabner
  • Cody Mcleod
  • Maxim Lapierre
  • Patrick Kaleta
  • Alex Edler
  • Brad Stuart
  • Phil Kessel
  • David Clarkson
  • Zack Kassian
  • Dale Weise
  • Teemu Pulkkinen
  • Adam Erne
  • Paul Bissonnette

Or, you know, not exactly chock-full of goons.  And this isn’t an enforcer apologist post, it’s a HOLY SHIT YOU HAVE MUCH BIGGER PROBLEMS THAN JOHN SCOTT MAYBE DO SOMETHING ABOUT THEM post.  There’s no doubt that if you take fighters out of the league, you are therefore going to take a lot of fighting out of the league and make it safer in that sense.  There’s also no doubt that taking fighters out of the league does pretty much nothing to solve the much larger problem of the real players braining the ever loving hell out of each other.

What are we learning in all this?  Scratch that, what am I and a few others learning that the media and the NHL aren’t?  We’re learning that dirty hits aren’t a John Scott problem any more than they’re a Patrick Kaleta problem, or a Milan Lucic problem, or even a goon, pest, or real player problem.  They’re an NHL discipline problem.  Specifically they’re an NHL discipline consistency problem, and I’m not talking about what John Scott gets versus what other guys have gotten.  I’m talking about the vast gap between the hits that get punished and the ones that don’t.  Everyone’s pretty much forgotten that right after Max Lapierre boarded Dan Boyle, Brent Burns did something similar to Brendan Morrow.  Sure the circumstances weren’t quite as bad, but as we saw with the Kaleta – Richards hit last year, it doesn’t take much.

The NHL doesn’t seem to quite understand that you need to punish for reckless play whether or not it leads to catastrophic results.  It doesn’t matter that Morrow gets up and Boyle doesn’t, the danger in the action is the same and it just takes one tiny change in circumstance to go from stiff neck to broken neck.  If you drive drunk, you get the book thrown at you because that is a shitty fucking thing to do, and the NHL needs to apply the same logic to its players and how they choose to hit each other.  No penalty because it went okay this time is exactly how you get a next time.

 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. robert.doherty58@gmail.com permalink
    10/24/13 4:29 PM

    Lucic..has more skill in his pinky than Scott..Lucic is a Power Forward who can skate, score pass and bang,,and, oh yeah, he can fight too…Even Thornton hasa pretty high skill level..Bostons fourth line is the best in the NHL

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