Jarkko Ruutu receives one-game suspension for late hit on Martin Erat

The NHL decided to hand a one-game suspension to Anaheim Ducks pest Jarkko Ruutu for delivering a late elbow on Nashville Predators forward Martin Erat, according to Eric Stephens. (You can find video footage of the hit here.)

As manic as the league’s discipline process has been (and, as we’ll discuss soon, as manic as its main disciplinarian may seem), this punishment follows recent trends. The most obvious parallel is the one-game suspension the league handed to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Chris Kunitz. Ruutu’s elbow was similar to Kunitz’s elbow on Simon Gagne mainly because both moments were away from the puck and unnecessary.

Ruutu’s infraction might be a bit worse, though, especially since the hit will keep Erat out of a pivotal Game 5. (While it seems wrong that the severity of an injury factors into a suspension verdict, it seems like it does in some cases.)

It’s also a more problematic hit because Ruutu is a player with plenty of ugly moments on his resume. Ruutu was suspended for two games for biting another player on January 7, 2009 and two games on November 12, 2008 for another elbow.

There’s one last reason that hits like Ruutu’s need to be eliminated from the league: he serves little purpose aside from doing this sort of thing. Predators coach Barry Trotz spoke with the Tennessean about the hit and Ruutu’s “role.”

Here are some of Trotz’s comments:

  • On the hit: “It was a late hit. The Ducks are whining and complaining that they’re the ones being targeted or whatever. They’ve had guys suspended, late hit, we lose a good player.”
  • On Ruutu: “Ruutu doesn’t even dress. He’s a five-minute player for them. And we lose a top player.”
  • On trying to replace Erat in the lineup: “It’s just like (the Ducks’) Bobby Ryan. You can’t replace Marty Erat in our lineup.”

In the context of the 2011 playoffs, this judgment seems about right, but I wouldn’t have disagreed with a two-game suspension either. It almost make me wonder if the NHL should follow the example of public high schools by threatening these Matt Cooke-type players with flat-out expulsion in the future.

The NHL doesn’t need to extract all of the physicality out of its game, but they shouldn’t justify the existence of cheap shot artists, either. Whether this verdict was harsh enough or not, I doubt this will change what Ruutu does for a living.

Video: Flames goalie makes incredible behind-the-back glove save

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A save of the year candidate in September? It’s possible.

Jon Gillies of the Calgary Flames made an incredible stop during Wednesday’s exhibition game against the Vancouver Canucks.

The camera angle from directly above the net is the best, as it clearly shows how Gillies appeared to bump the puck back toward the goal line, then suddenly reach back with a no-look, behind-the-back glove save to prevent a Canucks goal and stop play.

That is one incredible save.

Drouin shows ‘commitment’ to community with donation to Montreal hospital

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Jonathan Drouin has yet to play a regular season game for his new team, the Montreal Canadiens.

But after getting traded to the Habs in the summer, Drouin has already made a sizable contribution in the community, donating $500,000 over 10 years to the University of Montreal Hospital Centre and planning to help in the fundraising activities to raise an additional $5 million, according to The Canadian Press.

From Sportsnet:

“I think all of that had some impact on his overall decision making,” Drouin’s agent Allan Walsh told Sportsnet. “One day when he’s retired and 50 years old, that hospital [which will begin serving patients for the first time this coming October] will still be here and he’ll have played a role in its development. That means something to him.

“But I think more than anything else he wants to help people. If he can help people—the hospital is going to be the largest hospital in North America and there’s a tremendous need for it in the city—and if he can use the fact that he plays for the Montreal Canadiens to do that, I wish more players felt that kind of responsibility to their communities.”

As noted in the Sportsnet piece above, Drouin is following in the footsteps of Saku Koivu and P.K. Subban, who made generous donations in the community during their time in Montreal.

The Habs acquired Drouin from the Lightning in June, sending prospect defenseman Mikhail Sergachev to Tampa Bay. They then signed the 22-year-old forward — who was born in nearby Ste-Agathe, Que. — to a six-year, $33 million contract.

It won’t be long before the pressure falls on Drouin’s on-ice ability, especially playing as a potential No. 1 center in Montreal and essentially being a hometown player for the Habs. But without even playing a meaningful game for his new team, he’s already giving back to an important cause in the city.

“And when you look at that, if you make $6 million and you give $50,000 a year, it’s not a big deal and you get tax receipts,” he said, per the Montreal Gazette. “But it’s a commitment, and being involved in the community and doing something for your community I think it’s something that you have to do.”

Lupul apologizes, takes ‘full responsibility’ after calling out Maple Leafs on Instagram

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Joffrey Lupul made headlines earlier this week after appearing to make accusations against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Instagram.

The comments — which have since been deleted but caught on a screen grab — came after the Maple Leafs announced Lupul failed his physical prior to training camp for the second year in a row.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per the screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

On Wednesday, the 33-year-old forward, who hasn’t played since the 2015-16 season, posted a statement on his verified Twitter account, saying his Instagram comments were an “inappropriate response.”

Here is his entire statement:

What’s also significant is that he stated he will not seek a second medical opinion regarding this failed physical. As previously noted, that option was available to him, although, per reports, the deadline for this was 5 p.m. on Thursday.

Lupul is in the final year of his five-year, $26.25 million contract.

Erik Cole retires as a member of the Hurricanes

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Erik Cole has officially retired.

The Carolina Hurricanes made the announcement on Wednesday, stating that Cole signed a ceremonial contract with the NHL team and retired as a member of the Hurricanes.

Now 38 years old, Cole played 892 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 265 goals and 532 points. A number of his best seasons occurred while he was with the Hurricanes, reaching 30 goals with the 2005-06 Stanley Cup winning team.

His best season came with the Montreal Canadiens in 2011-12, as he scored 35 goals and 61 points.

His last season was in 2014-15. He began the year in Dallas and was moved to Detroit at the trade deadline, but a spinal cord contusion essentially meant an end to his playing career.

From the Detroit Free Press in April, 2015:

Cole revealed Wednesday that he has a spinal cord contusion severe enough doctors have cautioned him not to play again this spring.

“It stems back from my neck injury in 2006,” Cole said. “When I ran into the player in the Arizona game, I bruised my spinal cord. A spinal contusion is something that you have to let heal and obviously, it’s a pretty serious occurrence. Doctors feel I need to look out for my well-being as a person, not just as a hockey player.”

Cole is now a team ambassador for the Hurricanes.