BUFFALO – Naturally, hulking Sabres tough guy John Scott was a little surprised to see Phil Kessel, one of the NHL’s most talented stars, lining up for a faceoff beside him Sunday in Toronto after the Maple Leafs’ Jamie Devane had just pummeled Corey Tropp.
Watching Devane knockout and bloody Tropp, who gave up five inches in the bout, infuriated the Sabres. Scott figured Leafs coach Randy Carlyle would send out some muscle.
Instead, skill hopped over the boards.
“He had obviously some other guys in the lineup,” Scott told a throng of reporters this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. “I think their coach kind of wanted to maybe downplay it. But I was just doing my job.”
The 6-foot-8 Scott knew he had to respond and said he would’ve went after anyone who lined up beside him, so he told Kessel, who’s about eight inches shorter and 60 pounds lighter, “Phil, we’re going to have to go here, just to let you know.”
How did Kessel respond?
“I think he said, ‘All right, let’s do it,’” Scott said.
Within seconds, a full-scale brawl had erupted between the fierce rivals.
“I wasn’t going to try to hurt him,” Scott said about Kessel. “I was just trying to send a message.”
Kessel responded by ferociously whacking Scott with his stick as Leafs mauled Scott.
“I’ve never seen a stick swing like that,” Scott said. “He’s got to do what he’s got to do. So it was an even fight, I guess, if he had his stick.”
He added: “Obviously, Phil’s OK. He probably came out the better end of it. I’m bruised all over my legs.”
Scott seemed dismayed Carlyle, whose love of tough guys is well known, put Kessel out.
“Their coach didn’t have to put Kessel out with me,” Scott said. “He kind of knew what was going to happen. It was kind of obvious.”
Meanwhile, Devane told reporters today in Toronto that Tropp, who’s still being evaluated, asked him to fight.
“You always feel for a guy like that,” Devane said. “When he skated off the ice, I was tapping the glass (in support). I went to the trainers after and wished him my best.”
Sabres coach Ron Rolston doesn’t believe Devane.
“Everyone’s going to have a story,” Rolston said. “So it just depends on what you go with.”
Rolston went with Scott prior to Tropp’s fight and left him on the ice. He’ll likely dress him again for the Nov. 15 rematch here.
“I’m sure there’s going to be some kind of retribution,” Scott said. “I’m sure their tough guys who weren’t in the lineup, (Colton) Orr and (Frazer) McLaren, weren’t too happy with me. So we’ll deal with that come November.”
In other news, Rolston said winger Marcus Foligno (possible shoulder) is also being evaluated. Forward Cody McCormick has a “hand issue” but should be fine for Wednesday, he said.
The Sabres also sent six players – Drew Bagnall, Matt Ellis, Matt Hackett, Brayden McNabb, Chad Ruhwedel and Michael Zigomanis– to Rochester today. Bagnall and Ellis must clear waivers.