Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff knows Patrick Kaleta has a reputation throughout the NHL.
Now he’s concerned that reputation is affecting Kaleta’s ability to play the game.
After watching Kaleta receive two charging penalties in three games — calls he deemed questionable — Ruff told reporters he thinks Kaleta has a target on his back.
“Kaleta just can’t hit anybody anymore. He can’t,” Ruff told the Buffalo News. “Everytime he hits somebody it’s a penalty. He knows that. He can’t hit anymore.”
Kaleta most recent charging penalty came after he hit Mikhail Grabovski during the third period of Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Toronto. Ruff was outraged by the call.
“I don’t think good hits should be taken out of the game,” he said. “I understand there’s a level of concern with what’s gone on with concussions but you can’t take good hits out of the game.”
That said, Ruff must know this situation is more about the player than the hits. Kaleta is widely regarded as one of the league’s dirtiest, annoying and most despised individuals and was recently suspended four games for serial headbutting.
In response to Kaleta (seemingly) getting penalized every time he hits someone, Ruff expressed concern that his chief agitator might be drummed out of the league.
“He’s going to have to change the way he hits,” Ruff explained. “He can’t come from a distance it looks like…it is disappointing.
“I’m worried. He’s a marked man, definitely a marked man.”