On Friday, I took the Arizona Coyotes to task for signing John Scott. I did so not because Scott is a bad person or a bad teammate, but because the role he plays on the ice is a dying role in today's NHL. Understandably, the post generated a considerable amount of discussion about the merits of enforcers in the game.
But I think the best argument in favor of signing Scott that I saw over the weekend had little to do with John Scott the Hockey Player. Instead, John Scott the Person might be a good fit for the Coyotes' locker room.
I believe 100% that the role Scott does play on the ice is incredibly difficult, both physically and mentally. It's possible to respect and admire the person who fills that enforcer role, even if you believe (as I do) that dedicating a roster spot to a guy who purely fights is not a good hockey move.
Yet despite this tough guy role (and maybe perhaps because of it), Scott is tremendously light-hearted and doesn't take himself overly seriously. That kind of personality, coupled with his job responsibilities makes him a very popular person in the locker room.
And that will ultimately be good for the younger players. Guys like Max Domi, Brendan Perlini, Christian Dvorak, and Anthony Duclair have spent their draft and draft +1 seasons on playoff teams, whether in the OHL, QMJHL, and AHL. They're used to scoring practically at will.
That's not going to happen at the NHL. Though the Coyotes have attempted to address their defensive deficiencies this offseason (more on that later), they've got a long way to go before even flirting with playoff contention. Everything has to go right for the team to even have a shot at making the playoffs. And in an 82 game season with a young top six, a lot can go wrong.
So even if Scott isn't producing much on the ice, he can be a big help to his teammates if he can show the younger guys how to adjust to NHL life, and not let the weight of losses and drag the team down and hurt the team's development.
John Scott the Hockey Player is not going to bring much to the table. But John Scott the Person might turn out to be a useful addition to the Coyotes' locker room.
- As much attention as Antoine Vermette and Martin Hanzal will get this training camp, the Coyotes' bottom six centers in Boyd Gordon and Brad Richardson are actually pretty solid.
- Richardson posted a 5v5 47.9 SATFor% despite having a Relative Zone Start Differential (Difference in the number of shifts started in the offensive zone versus the defensive zone) of a whopping -21.1 percentage points in 2013-14. In other words, Richardson started way more shifts in the defensive end, and still barely gave more more shot attempts than he took.
- Brad Richardson reminds me of another one-time Coyote depth center: Eric Belanger. Belanger played on the third line and did most of his damage at even-strength. Richardson is likely to do the same.
- Arizona is going to have some decisions to make regarding the future of their top six centers though. Both Vermette and Hanzal will be UFAs after the 2016-17 season. It's hard to imagine Vermette returning after next year, because by then both Brendan Perlini and Dylan Strome should be ready for the big time.
- Vermette's contract includes a no-movement clause, according to General Fanager. Martin Hanzal is four years younger, $600,000 cheaper, and has no such restriction. Should the team decide to sell this Spring or next year, Hanzal seems like the more likely candidate to move.
- Nothing new really on the IceArizona versus City of Glendale front; both sides are taking depositions (sworn statements) from key figures in the case in advance of the next hearing on July 30th.
- It's conceivable that Judge Dawn Bergin could hand down a ruling as early as then, but she doesn't have to. This next court date is meant for the two sides to argue over the suitability of the evidence, and not necessarily the merits of the case as a whole.
- But even if Judge Bergin decides more information or another hearing is necessary after this one, a decision is likely going to come soon. If the court sticks to the timeline they've used thus far, the Superior Court should issue a ruling before preseason opens in mid-September at the latest.