John Scott is a big, physical, fourth-line player.
But this season the tide turned for Scott. He received the first suspension of his six-year NHL career and suddenly was getting penalties based on a newly-minted reputation.
He finished with 125 penalty minutes in 56 games, the second most in his career after he racked up 184 with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League in 2007-08.
But Scott sees this year as an aberration resulting from referees focusing on his play after the 6-foot-8 forward drew a seven-game suspension for his hit on Boston’s Loui Eriksson on Oct. 23.
“I think they were aware of me a little more,” Scott said Monday as the Buffalo Sabres cleaned out their lockers at First Niagara Center. “I think after the incidents with Boston and Toronto, they were looking out for me a little more but it got a little better at the end of the year where I didn’t get calls where I got them at the beginning of the year, but the refs know who the guys are. I think they were looking out for me a little more than they usually would be.”
Officials were on the lookout for Scott after a preseason game in September when he attacked Phil Kessel in Toronto to spark a line brawl.
Scott thought as the season progressed, his early-season reputation cooled a bit.
“Hopefully they just realize that I’m not out there to be a goon and this and that,” Scott said. “I think they understood midway through the year where I wasn’t just out there to fight all the time so they kind of gave me a little more leeway after that. I don’t change the way I play. I just go out there and do what I do and if I get a penalty, I get a penalty.”
The 31-year-old Scott is ready to close the book on this past season, penalties and all.
Monday was a unusual day around the dressing room, having the feeling of the last day of school but mixed with a sourness over the dismal season.
“You want to leave on good terms. You want to say to everyone goodbye and have a good summer and stuff like that but it’s just sour,” Scott said. “It’s never a good thing to leave while the playoffs are still going on and other guys are playing, especially the way our season went with turmoil and people in and out and players in and out, it’s definitely a tough day for a lot of guys.
“It just kind of snowballed on us. ... Everything that could go wrong, did. It’s one of those seasons where you just want to forget about it, write it off and come back next year and start new.”