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John Scott's signing by the Arizona Coyotes is a step in the wrong direction

The game is moving away from dedicated fighters. The Arizona Coyotes are not.

Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

I've never met John Scott. By every indication, he's a popular guy in the locker room who doesn't take himself too seriously. The Arizona Coyotes seem to have brought in a character guy.

However, John Scott the hockey player represents an increasingly antiquated approach to playing the game that not only does nothing to make the team better this year, but hobbles the team's development going forward.

There is no deterrent effect by employing enforcers in the NHL. The reason for that is twofold. First, today's enforcers do not play on the same lines as the players they are supposedly "protecting". Max Domi is not going to play on the fourth line, and John Scott is not (or should not, at the very least) going to play top six minutes.

So the odds of Scott being on the ice at the same time that someone like a Milan Lucic or a Corey Perry lays a hit on Domi, or Anthony Duclair, or Mikkel Boedker is remote, at best. So, if John Scott is going to fight any of those guys, it will be after the damage is done.

Which leads to the second reason why enforcers can't protect players. Questionable hits are more often than not an issue of timing rather than intent. A player puts his head down seconds before an open-ice check, or a play along the boards. A forward turns in the neutral zone to avoid a hit, inadvertently exposing his head instead of his chest as the hitting player initially thought.

These are split-second decisions that result in serious injury. The players involved rarely have time to adjust to avoid suspension worthy contact, let alone consider whether or not they'll have to answer the bell from the other team's fighter at a non-specific point sometime later in the game. Or the season. Or next season.

So NHLers have a choice: play as fast and hard as normal and risk having to fight a face-puncher at some point in the season, or play the game slower and less physical to avoid fighting (the "deterrent") and watch their NHL career shrivel up and end before their very eyes. Which one do you think they'll pick?

Fighting doesn't decrease dirty hits. Fighting doesn't "protect" skill players. Devoting a roster spot to someone who is there almost exclusively to fight does nothing but keep a more productive player off the ice. Today's game has moved past the need for dedicated pugilists.

Unfortunately for the Arizona Coyotes, management has not.