By Allan Muir
Brendan Shanahan took his sweet time deciding what to do with John Scott after the Sabres' lunkhead nearly decapitated Boston's Loui Eriksson more than a week ago.
At least he used it wisely, deciding to suspend Scott a total of seven games.
He made it clear that Eriksson was hit directly in the head and that Scott, who cut across the ice to take him out, had other plays to make that would have been effective and legal.
"On this play," Shanahan said, "the onus is entirely on Scott to ensure that Eriksson's head is not the main point of contact."
It was interesting to hear Shanny make a point of Scott's history of physical play. "It's important to note that Scott has 217 recorded hits in his career and has never received supplemental discipline for any of them," he said. "And while that works in Scott's favor, it also takes away any argument on his part that illegal head contact on an opposing player is inevitable simply because he is 6-foot-8."
There's sure to be some disappointment that the suspension isn't longer, but Shanahan is probably on target here. With no previous history of supplemental discipline and shackled by limitations imposed by the CBA it was tough to throw the book at Scott, but he had the courage to hand out a suspension long enough to be subject to appeal. Shanahan also made a strong statement that a size difference between two players isn't a valid excuse for a head shot.
Here's what the league had to say:
Buffalo Sabres forward John Scott has been suspended for seven games, without pay, for an illegal check to the head of Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson during NHL Game No. 138 in Buffalo on Wednesday, Oct. 23, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
The incident occurred at 5:49 of the third period. Scott received a match penalty for an illegal check to the head.
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, Scott will forfeit $26,923.05. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.