One day after Loui Eriksson suffered a concussion, the Sabres’ John Scott acknowledged he had thrown and landed a dangerous head shot Wednesday night in Buffalo.
“It happened pretty fast,” Scott told the Buffalo News. “I just thought I was completing a check. But, obviously, I hit his head. It wasn’t exactly what I was aiming for. I didn’t want to do that. It’s just a bad play, unfortunate it happened.”
The NHL concurred with Scott’s assessment. On Thursday, the league requested an in-person disciplinary hearing with Scott, who was automatically suspended indefinitely because of the match penalty (charging) he took on Wednesday. Eriksson is out indefinitely because of his concussion.
“He’s day to day right now, but I don’t think we know the severity of it,” said coach Claude Julien. “You never know about those things until some days go by and you see whether he’s improving or not.”
Eriksson’s injury status will be a factor in the length of Scott’s suspension.
“I hated the hit,” Shawn Thornton said. “My teammate’s down. You’re not on the ice. You can’t really do anything. [Adam McQuaid] did an awesome job getting in there quickly and addressing it. Quaider’s a pretty big tough guy, too. I was happy he was out there, at least. Those are the hits we’ve been trying to get rid of for years. Everyone talks about it. At some point, us players are going to have to look at ourselves in the mirror and take the responsibility ourselves.”
Because it is an in-person hearing, Scott can be suspended for five or more games, although he may not necessarily receive that long. The hearing date is unscheduled. Scott had yet to decide whether he will accept the invitation, which he can decline in place of a phone hearing.
Scott blindsided Eriksson well after the right wing had dumped in a puck.
“Sometimes, when you’re going to finish a hit on a guy and he moves at the last second, those things aren’t easy,” Thornton said. “I don’t think that was the case in this situation. I think [Eriksson] was in that position for a second or two before he decided to come across and bring his elbow up.”
Scott said he texted Eriksson after the game. Eriksson stayed overnight at the Bruins’ team hotel in Buffalo instead of returning to Boston aboard the club’s charter flight. He flew to Boston on Thursday accompanied by a member of the team’s medical staff. Eriksson missed his first game of the season Thursday night against the Sharks.
Scott does not have a history of discipline. However, he was involved in a preseason dustup Sept. 22 against Toronto. Scott tried to start a fight with Phil Kessel. Kessel was suspended for the rest of the preseason for slashing Scott. David Clarkson was suspended for the first 10 regular-season games for leaving the bench to engage Scott, who wasn’t suspended.
Scott’s hit on Eriksson was the eighth significant incident since the start of the season. Others who have been suspended: Ryan Garbutt (charging, five games), Michael Grabner (hit to head, two games), Cody McLeod (boarding, five games), Maxim Lapierre (boarding, five games), Patrick Kaleta (hit to head, 10 games), Alex Edler (hit to head, three games), and Brad Stuart (hit to head, three games). Commissioner Gary Bettman upheld Kaleta’s appeal on Thursday.
“We see that the league is trying to eliminate these kinds of hits,” Zdeno Chara said. “It seems like the more they try to clean up that part of the game, it’s coming up more and more often. I really don’t know what’s next. It really comes down to players being more aware of situations on the ice. They have to act with more awareness of other players’ positioning and weaknesses they sometimes see.”
Dougie and Freddie Hamilton on Thursday played against each other for the first time as NHLers. Freddie, Dougie’s older brother, appeared in his second career NHL game for San Jose. He skated alongside Tomas Hertl and Joe Thornton in his debut Monday against Detroit.
“I do a lot of one-on-ones with him during the summer. I’d like to think I know all his moves,” Dougie said with a smile before the game. “Hopefully he doesn’t trick me today. I’m just going to treat it like another game — keep playing, try to be physical, move the puck.”
The Hamiltons were junior teammates in Niagara. They also played together for Team Canada in the 2011-12 World Junior Championship.
The elder Hamilton, a forward, was recalled from Worcester on Sunday. He was San Jose’s fifth-round pick in 2010. Dougie skipped from junior to the Bruins last year.
“I’ve been completely fine with it,” Freddie said of his younger brother making the NHL first. “It’s probably almost been harder on him. He kind of looked up to me growing up, and he did it first. It’s not bothered me one bit. I’m just a proud older brother.”
It was the second time this month a Bruin had played against his brother. On Oct. 14, Reilly Smith went against older brother Brendan, a defenseman for the Red Wings.
Caron in lineup
With Eriksson unavailable, Jordan Caron returned to the lineup against San Jose. Caron had been a healthy scratch for the last two games against Buffalo and Tampa Bay. He played on the third line with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly. Caron had three hits in 14:36 of ice time. “I thought he skated really well tonight,” Julien said, noting Caron’s freshness . . . Brad Marchand, formerly the No. 3 right wing, moved up to the second line to fill Eriksson’s slot alongside Smith and Patrice Bergeron . . . Kelly assumed Eriksson’s spot on the No. 2 power-play unit . . . Bergeron won 13 of 15 faceoffs, including five of six against Thornton, his ex-teammate . . . Matt Bartkowski was the healthy scratch on defense for the third straight game.