By Tim Sassone
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When former Blackhawks defenseman John Scott was suspended indefinitely for elbowing Boston's Loui Eriksson in the head in a game on Wednesday, he became the eighth player suspended this season under Rule 48, which deals with blows to the head.
And we're not even a month into the season.
No matter what the NHL does -- even suspending players like Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta for as many as 10 games -- players continue to target opponents' heads.
This is an epidemic, whether the league wants to admit it or not.
Fighting? Hits to the head are the biggest problem the NHL has at this time.
"I don't think I'm a dirty player," Scott told reporters in Buffalo on Thursday. "I try to play within the code, within the rules. This is my first suspension. I don't try to be a dirty player."
And Scott's not a dirty player. I know this from years of watching him, but that doesn't mean what he did to Eriksson was OK by any means. Even Scott claimed to be sickened by the play.
"I kind of feel really upset," Scott said. "I was sick to my stomach last night knowing what happened watching the video. I just kind of regret the whole situation. I don't want to be a dirty player.
"It happened pretty fast. I just thought I was completing a check. But, obviously, I hit his head. It wasn't exactly what I was aiming for. I didn't want to do that. It's just a bad play, unfortunate it happened."
Scott certainly is no Kaleta, who is front and center with San Jose's Raffi Torres when it comes to the team picture of the dirtiest players in the NHL.
Commissioner Gary Bettman denied Kaleta's appeal of his 10-game suspension Thursday with some of the strongest language yet on the subject of head shots and repeat offenders.
Bettman issued a 17-page decision outlining why he turned down Kaleta's appeal to reduce a 10-game ban for an illegal hit to the head on Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson on Oct. 10.
Bettman noted in his ruling that Kaleta was previously suspended three times.
"I do conclude that he could have and should have avoided the hit altogether," Bettman wrote.
"As Mr. (Brendan) Shanahan testified at the hearing, 'I think there was also the option of not throwing the check. That (is) always an option.'
"I do not credit Mr. Kaleta's testimony that he 'tried ducking out of the check.' To the contrary, the video evidence demonstrates that Mr. Kaleta followed through on the check and made no attempt to avoid it," said Bettman.
It's the sixth time in four seasons that Kaleta has either been fined or suspended for an illegal hit.
Sit him down for 50 games next time and maybe he'll finally get it.
The 26-year-old Sabres winger drew a five-game suspension for an early March incident against Brad Richards of the New York Rangers after having been previously suspended multiple games on three prior occasions.
Pull up that video and watch it if you have any doubt about how dirty Kaleta is as a player. The league doesn't need dangerous guys like him looking to hurt people.
Morin, Mills recalled:
The Hawks on Friday recalled forwards Jeremy Morin and Brad Mills from Rockford. They first had to sign Mills to a one-year contract.
Morin, 22, had 4 goals and 4 assists in Rockford's first eight games after being one of the last to be cut at training camp.
The 30-year-old Mills, a career minor leaguer, had 2 goals and 2 assists.
The Hawks also placed defenseman Michael Kostka on injured reserve, retroactive to Oct. 22.
• Follow Tim's hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at dailyherald.com.