When the NHL released its lockout shortened 48 game schedule, one of the first things Steve Ott looked for was the season’s initial meeting with the Boston Bruins. Ott might not have literally circled January 31st on his calendar but the date was committed to memory.
One of the off season goals for the Buffalo Sabres management was to make the team tougher to play against and the acquisition of Ott was a big piece of their plan. You can thank tonight’s opponent for causing the Sabres to react.
The Ryan Miller-Milan Lucic incident was the defining moment of the 2011-2012 season for the Sabres, who hope that will never happen again, thanks in part to the presence of Ott and another off season pickup, John Scott.
Ott has a bit of a history with the Bruins going back to his time with the Dallas Stars. During a game in March 2009, Ott blindsided Gregory Campbell, who is currently with the Bruins but at that time was playing for the Florida Panthers.
Campbell didn’t face Ott again until he became a Bruin. In a game on February 3, 2011, the two fought as the puck hit the ice for the opening faceoff. There were three separate fights in the first four seconds that night and Ott, not surprisingly, is a villain in the eyes of Bruins fans now.
We all thought about toughness the moment the Ott for Derek Roy trade was announced but I didn’t realize there’s more to Ott’s game than just agitating. He was a first round pick, 25th overall in the 2000 draft.
Ott was considered one of the top junior players in Canada and would play for his country in the 2001 World Junior Championships. That produced the best story I have read about him since he came to Buffalo.
In order to increase his ability to get under the skin of opposing players in the tournament, Ott learned and memorized offensive phrases in other languages.
But as I said, Ott has more to his game than just running his mouth and rolling up penalty minutes, of which he has nearly 12 hundred in 572 NHL games.
Over his last five years in Dallas, Ott averaged 15 goals and 35 points a season. He totaled 20 power play goals over the last four seasons in addition to three shorthanded goals and eight game winning scores.
Over the last five years, there are only two players in the NHL who have at least 75 goals and 700 penalty minutes. One is Philadelphia’s Scott Hartnell, considered one of the best agitators in the league and the other is Steve Ott.
We had Ott on our show shortly after the trade and we asked him about his role on the Sabres. Ott talked about competing and battling and challenging the opponents’ top guys to see if they would answer back. He went on to promise Sabre fans he would be showing up for all 82 games and “especially the six against Boston”.