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Wild's Scott aims to add speed to his considerable size

  • Article by: Michael Russo
  • Star Tribune
  • September 22, 2007 - 12:16 AM

CHICAGO - John Scott has too much respect for Derek Boogaard to grab the 6-7½ enforcer, stand back-to-back with him and prove once and for all who is now the Wild's tallest player.

For the record, Scott, the man General Manager Doug Risebrough calls a "project/prospect," stands at 6-8 ¾.

So why was Scott listed at 6-7 when he roamed the blue line of Michigan Tech from 2002 to '06?

"A couple years before I went to Tech, somebody told me that anybody over 6-7, they didn't like as a hockey player," Scott, 24, said Friday. "So I just kept telling people I was 6-7 so I wouldn't get that stigma on me, that curse."

With the Wild, Scott's size is far from a curse. Risebrough spotted Scott when he was playing forward against the Gophers two years ago.

"I said to our scouts, 'Who is this guy? We should look at this guy,'" Risebrough said. "And the response back was he's not good enough. So I found it ironic that two years later they said, 'We're going to sign John Scott.'"

The Wild liked Scott so much last season that the team tore up his AHL contract and signed him to an NHL deal.

"He's a big guy still trying to figure out how to play in a big-guy role," Risebrough said. "Part of the process for him is to understand that being a big, strong kid is an advantage. He's got to use it. The word 'nasty' is probably something he's going to want to attach his name to."

Scott eagerly awaited his first NHL preseason game, Friday night's 5-4 overtime victory over Chicago.

"This will be a good gauge for me to see how I do against this kind of competition," Scott said. "I've always been a project. I've never had the foot speed or the hand skills needed to make it at this level. The Wild are hoping someday I can develop into a steady stay-at-home defenseman. I need to get my foot speed up to par with these guys here so I can stick."

Scott, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, still is developing his fighting skills, too.

"I've only been through a handful of fights my whole career, so I'm not elite status," Scott said. "But I can hold my own. I don't think I'd get beat up unless I do something stupid."

Friday, he fought to a draw with Chicago's David Koci, although he suffered a cut below his right eye.

Scott says his biggest skill is being a prankster. "Once I get cool with my teammates, I pull a few," he said.

Scott said he actually was victim to the best prank he's witnessed.

"One day my freshman year, I took all my roommates' stuff out of the room and threw it out in the courtyard," Scott said. "To get me back, well, it's not unusual to find dead deer up in Houghton, Michigan, just on the side of the road.

"My roommates snuck in my room one night and at about 2 in the morning placed a dead deer right on my bed. I woke up and there's just a big, bloody deer right at the foot of my bed. I freaked out and started screaming and everyone stormed in my room and started laughing.

"I almost had a heart attack."

Michael Russo • mrusso@startribune.com

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