By Josh Elliott
December was a month of seconds for Buffalo Sabres tough guy John Scott. He scored his second career NHL goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs on the 27th and, more importantly, he welcomed the birth of his second child.
“It’s a new perspective,” says 31-year-old Scott. “You don’t really worry about hockey too much like you used to.”
His first daughter, Ava, celebrated her second birthday on Christmas Eve, while newborn Gabriella arrived right before a tilt against Calgary Dec 14. Scott missed practice the day before to be with his wife for Gabriella’s birth, but was back on the ice for the game.
“I’m used to the hectic schedule when a kid is born,” says Scott. “It was a quick turnover, but it’s good.”
As for the added demands of being a new father, Scott says he’s not losing sleep, rather he’s “getting it taken away,” he says with a laugh.
Scott’s home life is coming together and so is his on-ice one. Despite a seven-game suspension for a head hit on Boston’s Loui Eriksson, Scott is on pace to set a career high for game played. While he’s an unwelcome sight in 29 NHL rinks, he’s become a fan favorite in Buffalo, where black-and-blue hockey is applauded. Most teams in the Atlantic Division carry a big tough guy and at 6-foot-8, 259-pounds, Scott is one of the biggest.
And he knows how to intimidate. Just ask Phil Kessel, the Leaf sniper who tried to chop Scott down like a tree when Scott threatened him before a faceoff in the pre-season. Kessel was suspended, while ‘Big’ John got off scot-free.
Scott typically plays the enforcer role, but Sabres head coach Ted Nolan is experimenting with other ways to put his massive frame to use. Nolan tried him on defense for a game and also placed him in front of the net on the power play.
“There’s no bigger guy we have on this team besides (Tyler) Myers to put in front,” says Nolan.
Power play time hasn’t translated into points yet, but if Scott manages to knock in another, it still won’t match the belated Christmas and birthday present he scored for his two daughters against Toronto.
Boos rained down from a hostile crowd at the Air Canada Centre, but when Scott skated back to the Sabres bench – and when he went home to his family later – you can bet he received a warm welcome.