John Scott spoke to the media for the first time Monday following the much-talked about line brawl against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday.
The 6-foot-8 enforcer sparked some controversy when he tangled with Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel after a face off during the preseason game in Toronto. On the previous play, Sabres forward Corey Tropp had gotten into a fight with the much bigger Jamie Devane. Tropp hit the ice hard after the bout and the result upset the Sabres bench.
Rolston then sent Scott, Mike Zigomanis and Brian Flynn onto the ice. Maple Leafs coach Randy Carslyle opted to use his last change to put out his top line Kessel, Tyler Bozak and Carter Ashton, reportedly hoping to diffuse the situation.
That line of thinking backfired as every player on the ice including goaltenders Ryan Miller and Jonathan Bernier tussled. The play resulted in 211 penalty minutes.
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Scott said that he was planning on dropping the gloves with whoever Toronto sent out and was a bit surprised to see that line come out onto the ice. For Scott, he said it was about playing his role and defending Tropp.
“I obviously thought our guy got taken advantage of the shift before and I was trying to stick up for him and send a message to Toronto, like, ‘You can’t do that to our small guys,’” Scott said. “And whoever they lined up with me, whether it’s Kessel or [Colton] Orr or whoever else they have in their lineup, I was going to fight them.”
Kessel, Toronto’s leading scorer last season, responded to Scott’s challenge by swinging his stick at Scott’s ankles. Kessel's teammates quickly came to his aid and everyone on the ice got in on the action, including Toronto forward David Clarkson, who left the bench and faces a 10-game suspension.
Scott said he can see Toronto’s side of things In that an enforcer shouldn’t go after a star player, but doesn’t necessarily agree with it.
“I would be pissed off if someone went after my star guy, too. 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 obvious that I was upset that our bench was upset. It’s what happened. Obviously Phil’s OK. He probably came out on the better end of it. I’m bruised all over my legs.“
The two teams don't meet again until Nov. 15 in Buffalo.