Nearly six years later, John Scott reflects on his infamous fight with Kessel

John Scott played nearly 300 regular season games in the NHL, but his encounter with Mr. 'The Thrill' during a preseason contest in 2013 may be the most iconic moment of his career. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
John Scott played nearly 300 regular season games in the NHL, but his encounter with Mr. 'The Thrill' during a preseason contest in 2013 may be the most iconic moment of his career. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

286 regular season games. Five goals. Six assists. 544 penalty minutes.

Those are the numbers that summarize the NHL career of John Scott. Additionally, according to hockeyfights.com, the six-foot-eight wrecking ball dropped the gloves a total of 38 times while playing at the sport’s highest level.

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With all due respect to the MVP award he so rightly deserved at the 2016 All-Star Game in Nashville, that’s not what people think about when they hear his name, though.

No, ma’am.

When John Scott comes up in conversation, it likely has to do with his legendary scrap (if we can call it that) against Phil Kessel during a preseason game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres in September 2013.

The images of Kessel — down a full eight inches and 60 pounds — swinging his stick at Scott as the tough guy tried to grab him are hilarious. And while the story of all that led up to that moment has been discussed before, Scott recalled the events in a video posted to his YouTube channel on Wednesday.

According to Scott, who was playing for the Sabres at the time, it all started because of a nasty scrap between his teammate Corey Tropp and Jamie Devane of the Maple Leafs midway through the third period of the contest.

Since Devane had nearly half-a-foot and over 50 pounds on Tropp, the result wasn’t pretty.

“As soon as the puck drops, they fight,” recalled Scott. “And, Jamie Devane beats the doors off my guy. Like just, takes him behind the wood shed and does a number on him and breaks his jaw...”

While trainers tended to Tropp and got him off of the ice, Scott’s blood began to boil. During the stoppage, he laid into Toronto’s head coach Randy Carlyle with a barrage of colourful language.

“The refs come in and calm us down and I finally say, ‘whoever you put out next to me, I’m going to beat the s—t out of. Anybody,’” Scott said.

With the Maple Leafs playing at home, they had the final change and Carlyle elected to try to dump some water on the situation by putting out his top line — which included Kessel.

Scott made it clear that he was rarely angry on the ice during his playing days. This proved to be one of those times and the fact the first line was in the middle of this mess didn’t matter to him at the time.

“Before the puck drops, Phil (Kessel) lines up beside me and I respect Phil,” said Scott, who last suited up for an NHL game in 2016. “He’s a great player. Like, I know that he’s not a fighter. So, I said, ‘Phil, I’m gonna jump ya. Heads up.’

And he goes, ‘what?’ And then, the puck drops and I throw my mitts and I try to grab him and he takes a step back and just starts hacking me...”

What ensued from there was pure madness. Every single player — including Toronto’s netminder Jonathan Bernier and his Buffalo counterpart Ryan Miller — dropped the gloves and began throwing hands. On top of that, Toronto’s David Clarkson jumped off the bench to join in on the fun.

Once the dust settled, Scott’s actions triggered 201 minutes in penalties. The game, a 5-3 win for Toronto, ended with a total of 239 penalty minutes, according to ESPN. Kessel was suspended for the rest of the preseason for his lumberjack impression while Clarkson received a ten-game ban.

And from that moment on, the rivalry between the Maple Leafs and Sabres has been all the more interesting.

For that Mr. Scott, we thank you.

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