As the late, great Cozmo Kramer told the Maestro when they were playing pool with musical batons in George Costanza’s childhood bedroom, “You know where it’s going.”
My brethren here at The Committed Indian couldn’t have said it any better yesterday when they tweeted “We hated John Scott before it was cool and fashionable.” It’s funny that it took John Scott decapitating a defenseless skill player for the rest of the hockey world to realize, “Wait a second, why is this guy playing professional hockey at the highest level?”
This debate is so 2010.
By now, everyone has heard and seen the scathing tongue-lashing that Mike Milbury gave John Scott and Buffalo head coach Ron Rolston on the NBC Sports Network. Milbury, like a broken clock, was spot on in his diatribe. There is absolutely no purpose to John Scott’s existence in NHL. He is irrelevant; a dinosaur; an artifact to the way things once were.
It’s sad that it takes a serious, career-threatening injury to a key player for people to realize that. But, then of course, we’re talking about hockey people who enjoy change as much as an armadillo enjoys being put on its back.
And change, hoo boy, is it coming. If you’re a fan of old time hockey and the way things were, I would probably recommend giving up watching hockey now and in the future, because there’s a grass roots campaign taking place that is going to change the way hockey looks in the very near future.
If you didn’t know (and I’m guessing a lot of you don’t because I didn’t either) USA Hockey is redefining the way checking is taught/officiated/enforced. Checking is defined as separating a player from the puck. The old phrase “Finish your check” is going to become the quickest way to leave your team short-handed. If a player doesn’t have the puck, he’s essentially off limits. Checking is no longer going to be about intimidation and hitting someone who just released the puck. (Think of it as hockey’s answer to the defenseless receiver rule in football.) It would be my guess that’s Canada’s governing hockey body is more than likely teaching the same thing to its coaches and officials.
And that’s what brings me full circle. In about 10 years, John Scott’s hit on Eriksson isn’t really going to exist, period. Eriksson was very clearly without the puck. Scott recognized that. His check was delivered for no reason than out of intimidation. Defined by the new rules, it was an unnecessary hit, plain and simple. Just like John Scott’s purpose for being on a NHL roster. The elbow to the jaw, however, is because he’s a pud-whack. And please, can every beat reporter spare us the old song of what people think of him as a teammate. There’s a very short list of guys who would speak out against their teammates. Sean Avery. Whether it be guys ragging to the press about him or vice versa. That’s it. So it’s not exactly shocking news that every former teammate is going to say nice things about him.
Players (and officials) are being taught from the time they put on equipment that players without the puck are not to be hit otherwise it’s a penalty, no questions asked. The gray area of whether the check was clean isn’t going to matter. The only thing that matters will be was the check necessary.
So take that in your pipe and smoke it.