Claude Julien  has said multiple times in the past that he wouldn’t play Shawn Thornton  if he wasn’t actually a good player, so it wouldn’t be a leap to assume he wasn’t thrilled to see the one-dimensional John Scott give one of his best players a concussion with a dirty elbow to the head, as was the case on Wednesday’s hit on Loui Eriksson.
Julien said prior to Thursday’s game against the Sharks that he doesn’t have a problem with the 6-foot-8, 259-pound Scott playing, but that he’s got a problem with some of his recent actions. That includes trying to fight Phil Kessel  in a preseason game.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that John Scott is a good guy,” Julien said. “I haven’t seen too many [players] that aren’t. It’s just unfortunate that you see those kind of players end up hurting the kind of players that you don’t want to get hurt. I don’t know where those decisions are coming from. You see him dropping the gloves against Kessel and now taking that blindsided shot at Loui. I think it’s uncalled for, but that’s the unfortunate part. If those guys know their role and they do their jobs and know who to go after when the time comes and they police their team as far as nobody’s going to take advantage of them, I’m fine with that. I’m disappointed that it’s the way that’s happened and who he’s targeted lately.”
The 31-year-old Scott averages 4:57 of ice time a game and has five career points. He isn’t capable of doing anything but be an enforcer, so when all he can do is go out and either fight or hurt somebody, he gives well-rounded enforcers like Shawn Thornton  a bad name.
“In my first couple of years I probably couldn’t play all that much, but I think I worked hard personally to be able to contribute in other ways,” Thornton said. “I know for a fact I wouldn’t be on this team — I’ve been told as such, that if I can’t contribute on the ice other than just sticking up for my teammates. Guys have a job to do. Some guys go about it one way and some guys go about it another, I guess.”
Thornton’s next dirty hit will be his first, and he’s worked hard to be a physical player without being a dangerous player. Of course it isn’t easy.
Julien coaches guys who have been punished for bad hits. Daniel Paille ‘s elbow to the head of Raymond Sawada three years ago was as bad as it gets, while Dougie Hamilton was suspended 10 games in the OHL for a hit to the head.
“I have guys like that in my lineup that could be stupid if they wanted to. Nobody’s clean in this game,” Julien said. “We’ve had some incidents happen that as a coach you wish didn’t happen. At the end of the day, we’re trying to clean our game up, and the only way we’re going to clean it up is if we did it as a group. Let’s not expect the league disciplinarian to do it by himself and let’s not expect the players to do it by themselves. It’s everybody, and I think a lot of it starts with respecting each other a little bit better than we have so far.”