Shawn Thornton and John Scott are two of the biggest, baddest dudes in the NHL, and they have both made a career out of using their firsts to send messages in hockey games.
The message that they may try to send on Thursday night would likely be very personal.
Scott is one of the players that Buffalo brought in this offseason to toughen the Sabres up, especially in the wake of the club’s embarrassing response to Milan Lucic taking out Ryan Miller in a November game last season. He may get a chance to show Thornton and the Bruins how tough he is Thursday night, as the two actually have some unfinished business that predates Scott’s time in Buffalo.
Scott, who stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 255 pounds, had some strong words for Thornton dating back to the 2011 season. Scott was playing for the Blackhawks at the time (though he only got into 40 games), and when the two teams met in March, Thornton fell on a skate and suffered a facial laceration that needed roughly 40 stitches. As the B’s enforcer skated off the ice, he was met with some harsh words from the Chicago bench.
This led Thornton — with half of his face hanging off — to go after the Chicago bench. He had to be restrained by referee Don Van Massenhoven before being escorted back to the Boston dressing room.
Thornton was none too pleased with whatever he heard.
“There was some stuff said that I’m not very happy about,” Horton told reporters after the game. “If I ever find out who it was, I’ll deal with it my own way.
“Those guys on their team chirp a lot. I don’t know if it’s right when someone’s face is half across the other side of their face. But it’s a tough game and people have to live with their actions.”
For whatever reason, that, along with the way Thornton played in that game against the Blackhawks made Scott very mad. While he was a healthy scratch for the game, Scott sent a very stern message to the Bruins forward.
“He said that? That’s fine. He can say what he want,” Scott said. “He’s going after some of our littlest guys on our team to start a fight. He’s trying to challenge [Fernando] Pisani to a fight. What’s that say about him?
“He’s Mr. Tough Guy and he’s trying to challenge Pisani. If I’m in the lineup, he’s more than welcome to come chirp at me. I’ll kick the [expletive] out of him.”
Scott even went as far to say that Thornton’s near-catastrophe was a little bit of karma.
“I don’t know if I’d do that, Thornton is a stand-up guy,” Scott said. “I don’t know who said anything, but he was kind of being cheap that game. So whatever. He gets what comes to him.”
Scott actually got a couple of chances to get after Thornton last season. Scott actually dressed for two games against the Bruins, once with the Blackhawks in October and one with the Rangers in March after he was traded to New York before the trade deadline. Scott played just a little bit more than 14 minutes combined in those two games, and he never crossed paths with Thornton, who only saw a little more than 16 minutes on the ice himself.
That could very well change on Thursday night, though. Scott is still playing limited minutes, and he’s only engaged in one fight this season, but the Sabres need something to turn them around, as they enter the game on a four-game losing streak.
Scott could look to give the Sabres a boost early, and if he does, don’t be surprised if it’s Thornton he seeks out.