John Scott (32) defends Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos earlier this season. ©2013, Dan Hickling, Olean Times Herald

Headshot earns Sabres tough guy John Scott 7-game suspension

BUFFALO – The NHL suspended Sabres tough guy John Scott seven games Thursday for his powerful blindside headshot that concussed Boston’s Loui Eriksson last week.

In banning Scott, NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan noted that while Scott had never been fined or suspended, the 6-foot-8 winger has 217 hits in his 187-game career.

“While that works in Scott’s favor, it also takes away any argument on his part that illegal head contact is inevitable simply because he is 6-foot-8,” Shanahan said in a video explaining the suspension.

Shanahan said the injury factored in the seven-game length. The 6-foot-2 Eriksson hasn’t played since the hit.

Scott will forfeit $26,923.05 during the ban. The 31-year-old has already served four games and is eligible to return Nov. 8 in Anaheim. He had his in-person hearing Thursday morning in New York, hours before the Sabres’ 2-0 loss to the Rangers.

Officials gave Scott a five-minute match penalty and ejected him after his shoulder hit Eriksson’s head early in the third period of the Sabres’ 5-2 loss to the Bruins.

“Although this is not an elbow to the head, the follow through that occurs after contact indicates a significant level of force on this illegal check to the head,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan noted Eriksson never changed the position of his body or head prior to the hit after passing the puck in the neutral zone. He said the winger was eligible to be checked but not in that manner.

“The onus is entirely upon Scott to ensure Eriksson’s head isn’t the main point of contact of any hit he chooses to make,” Shanahan said.

Scott can appeal to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

The hit ignited a firestorm of controversy, with many saying Scott shouldn’t have been on the ice so late in a close game.

“It happened pretty fast,” an apologetic Scott said about the hit last Thursday. “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.”

Scott also defended his reputation then, saying, “I don’t think I’m a dirty player.”

He’s the second Sabre to be suspended this season. Patrick Kaleta received a 10-game ban for hitting Columbus’ Jack Johnson in the head Oct. 10. The winger served his final game Thursday.

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