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.