Apologetic and emotional over head hit, Sabres tough guy John Scott says he belongs in NHL
“It happened pretty fast,” an apologetic Scott said after practicing this morning inside the First Niagara Center. “I just thought I was completing a check. But, obviously, I hit his head. It wasn’t exactly what I was aiming for. I didn’t want to do that. It’s just a bad play, unfortunate it happened.”
Update: The Bruins have announced Eriksson has a concussion and is out indefinitely.
But the 6-foot-8 Scott, who had never been suspended in his 187-game NHL career, bristles at the cries he’s a dirty player and doesn’t belong in the league.
“I don’t think I’m a dirty player,” Scott said. “I try to play within the code, within the rules. This is my first suspension. I don’t think I’m dirty. I don’t try to be a dirty player. I kind of feel really upset. I was sick to my stomach last night knowing what happened watching the video. I just kind of regret the whole situation. I don’t want to be a dirty player.”
Scott, who skated 5:15 in the Sabres’ 5-2 loss to the Boston Bruins, said “it’s just nonsense” some observers are saying coach Ron Rolston had his enforcer on the ice to hurt someone.
“There was 14 minutes left in the game,” Scott said. “If you watch my shifts, our line was doing pretty well. We had zone time, we were playing really well. So to say he sends me out there just to hurt somebody is just asinine, is just completely false and not what happens at all.”
Then Scott started becoming a bit emotional.
“I’m a hockey player,” he said. “I go out there and I play my game. I’m physical, I hit. That’s my role. Like, I’m not going to score a million goals. I get frustrated. I get frustrated when people say I’m a goon and this and that.
“I have a role, I do it. I go out and I’m physical. It’s unfortunate what happened last night. But to say that Ron sent me out there to do anything with any malcontent or anything is just completely false.”
Scott said he didn’t know he had hit Eriksson’s head right away.
“I honest to God didn’t realize it was that bad of a hit, because I was in the box, I was asking the ref, like, ‘Was it a head hit?’” he said. “I didn’t set out to do that. I knew something was going to happen, but I didn’t realize what happened.”
Scott, who’s suspended pending a hearing, got Eriksson’s number from Sabres co-captain Steve Ott, the Swede’s teammate in Dallas. A woozy Eriksson left the game and stayed overnight in Buffalo for observation.
“I texted him and told him, ‘Sorry for the hit,’” Scott said. “I didn’t realize it was a hit to the head. So it was unfortunate.”
The hit on the 6-foot-2 Eriksson “could’ve gone either way,” he said.
“I was finishing my check,” Scott said. “He was leaning forward, so I definitely made contact with him. … Ten years ago, that would’ve been good. But now that’s the hit they’re getting out of the game. So I totally understand that.”
Scott said he doesn’t know his hearing date.
In other Sabres news, the club has placed forward Kevin Porter on waivers, according to reports. With Ville Leino and Cody McCormick nearing returns, possibly this weekend during the Sabres’ short two-game Florida trip, the Sabres needed to create a roster spot.
Update: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Patrick Kaleta’s 10-game suspension for hitting Columbus’ Jack Johnson in the head. Read about the decision here. The winger can now go to a neutral arbitrator. Kaleta has served six games.