By John Vogl
John Scott says no to fights every game. He thinks they're stupid, and he'd be fine if they were outlawed.
Staged fights, that is.
"The staged fighting, the fights that don’t really mean anything, I can do without those," the Sabres' enforcer told The News today. "I know I’ve been in a few of those in my career, but there’s a time and place for every fight. Sometimes they don’t really matter. I can see where the league is coming from and the fans are coming from."
Fighting has once again become a hotly debated topic around the NHL after bad injuries to the Sabres' Corey Tropp and Montreal's George Parros. Hockey legends such as Steve Yzerman and Scotty Bowman have said it's time for fighting to go.
Scott agrees with only part of it and says heat-of-the-moment battles still have a place.
"It’s hard to get fighting out of the game. It’s so ingrained in the culture," Scott said. "I don’t think when Stevie was playing he was saying that because he had guys protecting him. It’s the same game, and I just don’t know if they’ve forgot how it was or what’s going on, but it’s kind of annoying. They’ve been in hockey their whole life, and now they’re trying to take my job away and other guys’ jobs away just because they don’t like it now. But when they played, it was perfectly fine. It’s a little annoying."
"It’s one of those things that in hockey I believe we do need it," Weber told The News. "I believe it’s one of those things that can change momentum. It’s the last thing that we can control in the aspect of policing ourselves.
"Every year it’s something. They’re trying to change our game. We have a pretty great game, and I think it should be left alone. A lot of the things are trying to make it safer for us, but they end up not working out the way they planned. I feel you take fighting out of the game, we’ve lost all opportunity to police ourselves and control the atmosphere on the ice. It’s going to lead to more altercations, more scrums, more big open-ice hits, then that’s going to put a lot more pressure on the NHL for suspensions."
Sabres right wing Brian Flynn has only been in one fight -- he was bloodied during preseason after Scott and Toronto's Phil Kessel began punching and swinging sticks -- but he agrees fisticuffs belong in the game.
"I think it does," Flynn said. "I’m not a guy that fights, but I still think it does. You have guys like John who stick up for your teammates when they have bigger, stronger guys who are taking advantage of your smaller, skill guys. You need guys like John or Webby, who will step in there and stick up for you."
Besides, Flynn said, even penalizing fights with game misconducts wouldn't eliminate them.
"I’m sure guys would still do it," Flynn said. "I guess they’d get a suspension for it or refs would step in right away, but there’s no way guys wouldn’t step in for each other for a bad hit or something like that."
Sabres coach Ron Rolston is intrigued by the debate and the steps taken to curb fighting, but he also thinks it'll be around awhile.
"It’s been a part of hockey for a long time, and I think it’s going to be a part of hockey," Rolston said. "It’s going to be interesting how it continues to go in hockey because now you’ve added a visor rule, you’ve added rules with taking helmets off, so it’s going to be interesting where it goes from here with some of those rules, I think, but I think it’s always going to be a part of things."
taggedJohn Scott | Mike Weber