It was inevitable, a heavyweight tilt hockey fans could have penciled in on July 1, 2012.
On the first day of free agency, the Buffalo Sabres inked “Big” John Scott to a one-year deal for this very game, their first against the despised Boston Bruins following a 2011-12 season in which the Bruins had their way, physically speaking, with the Sabres. (The crux of the matter being Milan Lucic’s running of star Buffalo goaltender Ryan Miller back in November 2011.)
The 30-year-old Scott has one career NHL goal and 270 penalty minutes in 157 games (including playoffs). He’s in Buffalo for one reason.
And Scott was especially purposeful with his purpose Thursday night as he pummeled the Bruins’ enforcer, 6’2”, 217-pound Shawn Thornton, as soon as the pair got their respective first shift. (According to CSSNE.com, the two tough customers had been jawing at each other during the warm-up at TD Garden.)
Scott’s business was quick and painful: a flurry of overhand rights led Thornton down to the ice and skating to the penalty box unstable. Thornton would go from the box to the dressing room and never returned. Scott logged only 4:28 of ice time.
John Scott and Shawn Thornton just squared off inside the blueline; Scott has 6 inches & 53 pounds on 22.^CS
Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Friday that Thornton will miss the next seven to 10 days with a concussion. As a result, the Bruins recalled forward Jamie Tardiff from Providence on an emergency basis.
“He’s been a great team guy here for the last six years, and he takes a lot of pride in what he does sticking up for himself and his teammates. He’s a great team guy,” Lucic told CSNNE.com of Thornton. “He’s an important person to this hockey club. It was unfortunate that he missed the rest of the game after that, but knowing him… he’s a tough guy and he’ll try to get back as soon as he can.”
Undrafted out of Michigan Tech, Scott comes by his nickname honestly. He’s 6’8” and 270 pounds, most of that knuckle weight.
“Going into this game there was a lot of hype around what happened last (year),” Scott said, referring to the Lucic-Miller incident. “So I kind of just wanted to set the tone and say, ‘OK, we’re here to play.’ It happened out that I came out on the fight.
“I just want to be there for my teammates and let them know I’m here to fight, I’ve got your back. Last year’s not going to happen like this year.”
The Bruins next face-off against the Sabres will be in Buffalo on Feb. 10.