Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ruutu’s reputation rears up again

Not since Ulf Samuellson launched his knee into Cam Neely’s, has a player developed such a reputation for havoc and injury as that of Pittsburgh’s Jarkko Ruutu.

Wednesday night, Ruutu and the Thrashers Ilya Kovalchuk came together on the side boards near the Thrashers bench. In a bid to escape the approaching check of Ruutu Kovalchuk tried to swing out of the way, but was clipped by Ruutu in a knee on knee collision. After a short shift to test things out, Kovalchuk left the ice for the remainder of the game, and potentially for much longer.

While Ruutu was defending his hit on Kovalchuk’s knee as an accident, his past transgressions will surely make those claims seem less than sincere. Known as an agitator and considered by some to be a dangerous player on the ice, Ruutu gained the full attention of the Thrashers Steve McCarthy after he sent Kovalchuk to the ice. Ruutu spent close to a minute on the receiving end of a number McCarthy punches, in retribution for his hit. After the dust up had finished both were done for the night, with Ruutu sent off the ice for his kneeing major.

The possibility that the knee on knee was an accident is always there, but somehow you don’t get the feeling that Ruutu is going to get the benefit of the doubt. He certainly wasn’t feeling the love from many of the Thrashers after the game. It will be interesting to watch Coach’s corner on Saturday, where the always opinionated Don Cherry will no doubt review the run at Kovalchuk by Ruutu and perhaps look back at Ruutu's own past history.

The Thrashers eventually prevailed in the game 4-1, but no doubt not many were thinking of the two points at games end, rather they were probably contemplating the number of days that they may be without their top scorer.

Atlanta Journal Constituion--Kovalchuk hurt in Thrashers' victory

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