I hate the cheap shots.
I hate the lies just as much.
John Scott of the Buffalo Sabres nearly decapitated Boston's Loui Eriksson with a malevolent, blind-side hit to the head Wednesday night.
Here's Scott’s explanation:
"It happened pretty fast. 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."
What a crock.
It's better to say nothing than lie, especially a lie of such mind-numbing falsehood. Scott's hit to Eriksson's head may be the cheapest shot of a hockey season unfortunately riddled with them. Scott skated from a long way away and clearly targeted Eriksson's head.
Scott intended to injure, and he did. Eriksson is out indefinitely with a concussion.
"The guy who did it, did his job," said Boston Coach Claude Julien. "He's out there for two reasons: Either to fight, or to hurt. He did his job."
What's going on at Buffalo? The Sabres have the NHL's worst record at 1-9-1. Patrick Kaleta got a 10-game ban for a similar offense. Now this.
NBC's Mike Milbury said that Scott doesn't belong in the NHL, and that Sabres Coach Ron Rolston is in over his head and should be fired. Right, and right. Boy, it pains me to agree with Milbury.
The NHL is at a crossroads. Head shots are epidemic. Ten-game and five-game suspensions do not appear to be a deterrent.
Two possible solutions:
*Double or triple the suspensions, and make them automatic. Twenty games for the first offense, 50 for the second. You don't go back to zero when the season ends, either. If your second head shot is two years after the first, you still sit 50.
*Prohibit teams from filling the roster spot when a player gets banned. You play with 17 skaters, not 18.
Unfortunately, there just isn't any way to get rid of players like Scott. Coaches always want a fear factor. Nor is there any way to make a low-IQ hack like Scott develop respect for his fellow professionals. What he does is what got him to the NHL. Why would Scott change if no one forces him?
Hockey’s the best game in the world. And it sucks at the same time.