Lost in the shuffle of the endless stream of trades, buy outs, and UFA signings this week was the San Jose Sharks poaching enforcer John Scott from the Buffalo Sabres.
All right, sure. If you exclude other NHL players, since Scott’s NHL career began in 2009 he may only have two more goals to his credit than the entire rest of the planet Earth combined. But that’s not where his true value lies.
So what is that value? Please allow me to illustrate.
Season after season, the Buffalo Sabres were pushed around easier than a Ouija board’s triangular planchette.
Opposing players took turns running Sabres’ goaltenders as if they were waiting in line for a ride at Six Flags for the chance to do so.
And they laughingly continued to because Buffalo had no one on their roster who could realistically step up and stop the shenanigans.
The issue finally came to a head when Boston Bruin Milan Lucic, whose NHL history is rife with cheap shots yet inexplicably bereft of suspensions, nearly decapitated then-Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller.
It seemed obvious that Lucic did so knowing full well that the Sabres wouldn’t (or couldn’t) do anything about it; which of course they didn’t. (Paul Gaustad’s noble attempt some games later notwithstanding.)
This was almost certainly the final straw that caused former Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier to sign Scott. The 6’8” 259-pounder has often been described as a “Nuclear deterrent,” meaning his mere presence on a squad’s bench or roster would be enough to halt the liberties teams normally take against their weaker adversaries.
The Bruins quickly found out the impact a player like Scott can make when, in January of 2013, Scott landed 10 straight punches to the head of Boston’s tough guy Shawn Thornton; knocking Thornton out of the lineup for a fortnight.
Give the ex-Bruin Thornton credit though, as he stepped in where Lucic apparently feared to tread. The Big Bad Bruins were more like Church Mice once Scott donned the Sword’s sweater.
And while Scott hasn’t won every fight, he has won a significant majority of them. He’s intelligent with a great locker room presence, and is very well aware of why he’s in the NHL. And that’s what the San Jose Sharks can expect out of him this coming year.
Now with Scott, the next time some foe considers taking a run at a young Sharks player like Tomas Hertl, you can be sure that the teal Godzilla sitting on the end of San Jose’s bench is going to give him considerable pause before acting.
As long as the NHL remains a league in which fighting is completely legal, that is the value that John Scott brings to a roster. And it cannot be overlooked.