Closed Palms

by Ryan

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I thought we all knew that Jarkko Ruutu is a cheap shot artist that plays stupid hockey with an intent to injure. After The Peters Incident and the subsequent suspension I was pretty sure everyone knew this. I mean I still imagine Ruutu devouring an innocent baby almost any time he is mentioned, so remembering that he was a player with bad tendencies wasn’t hard for me.

Apparently the league didn’t get that message. After this hit on Patrick Kaleta and a five minute major for boarding, Ruutu was fined but not suspended by the league yesterday. Now Kevin at Bfloblog has summed things up nicely already, but what I find most interesting about all this is how little it was mentioned immediatley after the game.

Now one reason seems obvious: the Sabres were poisoned! Believe it or not, the food poisoning we knew about a half hour after the game practically led the 11pm news on Channel 2. Seriously, I was so dumbfounded by this I recorded the teaser on my phone in case anyone doesn’t believe me. What we in the blogosphere knew before The Buffalo News went to press Wednesday night was barely known by the wider public until late last night.

Heck, we even knew it was a steakhouse after the morning skate on Thursday. It’s just another example of how fast news can spread these days, and what that immediacy brings. I mean, I didn’t even mention Ruutu in my post about the game, but at about 9:30 on Wednesday he was all I wanted to talk about.

So people were clearly distracted by the Sabres’ bowel movements and such, but the fact that a suspension seemed like such a no-brainer couldn’t help, either. After I finished writing about the game I remembered the Kaleta hit, but there really wasn’t much of a debate that he would get a few games for it. It was such a blatant intent to injure a hockey player in a time where shots to the head are discussed so heavily, I thought it was almost redundant to talk about it. No one else seemed to mention it, either, and so it felt like the only thing left to discuss is whether the number of games was appropriate once we heard how many it would be.

Now that we know Ruutu is getting off the hook, it’s safe to say there is plenty to talk about. There is the double or sometimes triple standard the league has with its players making dangerous plays. Whether a superstar, mid-range talent, or troublemaker giving or receiving a hit, there are so many unwritten rules and exceptions that I no longer know what to make of it. Colin Campbell and his office is a joke, and seeing a repeat offender like Ruutu get off unscathed only confirms what we’ve thought for years: the inconsistent rulings look more and more absurd every year.

This post isn’t designed to talk exclusively about the Sabres, as there are plenty of examples of injustice throughout the league. However, Kaleta has been hurt on two borderline boarding calls this season, and both incidents have gone without suspension. A similar call against Kaleta got him a two-game suspension and only furthered his “reputation”, so to speak. It’s not an absolute conclusion, but is sure is an ominous coincidence.

If the NHL won’t punish Ruutu, the only conclusion is this: the Sabres have to do it themselves. Mark December 26th on the callender, people: it’s going to be more than just Boxing Day in Buffalo. What I want to see is a little less standing around and a little more of this intensity on the ice. Forget about power plays and being careful, if the league won’t settle things the Sabres need to take it into their own hands.

It’s not often they do, but it’s clear they are on their own on this one.

5 Comments

  1. petek

    The 26th should be a hell of a game. (I think you mean Ruutu was fined but not suspended in your second paragraph.)

  2. brian s.

    I disagree with you about the suspension. Yes, Ruutu is a repeat offender and dirty player. Yes, it was a cheap shot to the head that clearly injured Kaleta who has a history of concussions. However, we can’t ever know if there was truly intent to injure as no one in their right mind would ever admit to it. Additionally, by the letter of the law it was a “legal” hit until the league does away with shots to the head. From what I remember from watching Wednesday night, Ruutu came in from the side and did not hit Kaleta from behind. He led, and hit with, his shoulder which connected with Kaleta’s jaw and ran his head into the glass. His elbow stayed down the entire time and it was technically “a clean hit.” I don’t necessarily like it, and wouldn’t like it if it was Kaleta hitting Ruutu in the same manner, but the 5 minute major for boarding was really all that could be given as punishment. This brings up the larger question of when is the league going to get rid of head shots, but that’s an entirely different question.

  3. The thing is, if you hit people like that, and only get a 5 minute penalty. What stops goons from going after Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin or even Ryan Miller and trying to take them out of the game. Or even the year?

    Someone needs to be made an example of.

    Ruutu, better look out next saturday. Because Rivet, Montador, Gaustad, Mair or whoever is going after him all night long.

  4. I’ve never really been one to advocate vigilante justice, but some trash like Ruutu need it. Let the Goose go on a warpath.

  5. brian s.

    @jonathan: I agree that there’s nothing to stop goons from going after stars if there’s only a 5 minute major. However, until the league issues an edict stating that any head shot will result in a suspension they can’t justify suspending a hit like the one on Kaleta. Especially when Richards laid out Booth with a similar hit minus it was at the center of the rink rather than against the glass. One can only hope that day comes soon.

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  1. By Shove it, Ron Wilson « Letters to the NHL December 18, 2009 at 7:58 PM