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.
Less than a week after falling two places to fifth in the NHL draft lottery, the Vancouver Canucks have reportedly received more bad news: NCAA free agent forward Drake Caggiula will not be signing in Vancouver.
That’s according to reports from TSN’s Bob McKenzie and Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on Friday. Not only are the Canucks supposedly out of the running, but so, too, are the Ottawa Senators, according to Friedman.
It was suggested earlier in the day that the Canucks could be front-runners for Caggiula, who played at North Dakota with Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick Brock Boeser and recent college signing Troy Stecher.
The ill will between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning has continued early in Game 4 on Friday.
It started with a scuffle in front of the Tampa Bay net after Islanders forward Steve Bernier fell over Ben Bishop, appearing to push downward with his stick as the Lightning goalie covered the puck.
Anxious few seconds there for the Lightning, as Bishop, appearing to favor the back of his head, was slow to get back to his skates. He has remained in the game.
The Islanders, needing a win to even the series, broke through for the game’s opening goal. Kyle Okposo ripped a shot from the slot that beat Bishop on the glove side late in the ensuing power play following the aforementioned heated gathering.
Related: WATCH LIVE: Lightning and Islanders — Game 4
There is only one game on the playoff schedule tonight, but it’s a crucial Game 4 between the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders are looking to even the series at two games apiece before it shifts back to Tampa Bay for Game 5.
You can catch Game 4 between the Lightning and Islanders on NBCSN (7 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
Isles need ‘a short memory,’ can’t get hung up on Game 3 disappointment
Andreychuk confident that Stamkos will re-sign in Tampa Bay
No hearings scheduled for Boyle on Hickey hit, or Hickey on Drouin hit
In an emotional farewell ceremony to Edmonton’s Rexall Place last month, organizers somehow overlooked one rather significant detail about a former WHA player.
We will let the Oilers explain:
Oilers Entertainment Group would like to issue a formal apology to former Edmonton Oiler (WHA) Roger Cote and his family. In a special segment during the Farewell Rexall Place Night on April 6, 2016, the organization honoured members of the Oilers Alumni who have unfortunately passed on. In an extreme oversight and error, we included Mr. Cote in that portion of the program. Roger is alive and well, living in Garson, Ontario. For this action and any confusion or pain it caused Mr. Cote and his family and friends, we sincerely apologize.
In addition to recognizing the error and issuing an apology, the Oilers added that they will be hosting Cote and his son at a game at Rogers Place next season.
Cote played two seasons for Edmonton during the WHA days.
The ceremony following the final game at Rexall Place involved more than 150 Oilers alumni members, staff and special guests, as well as current members of the organization, according to the Oilers.