It seems like the entire NHL season has been full of injuries, cheap shots, and suspensions. Despite all of the action, Alexander Ovechkin’s suspension is probably the one most people know about.
However, Jarkko Rutuu’s hit on Patrick Kaleta in Wednesday night's game was another hit that made a few people upset. Buffalo fans are clearly unhappy about the hit, and Ottawa fans don’t seem to see anything wrong with it.
The NHL was a little upset with it, as they fined Rutuu an undisclosed amount of money. However, he was not suspended.
Here are my thoughts on the hit:
Yes, Rutuu does have a history of cheap shots. I can definitely see him making a hit like this. Although he probably wouldn’t be intending to hurt somebody, he would be trying to intimidate them. I don’t think that he tries to injure people with his hits, I just think that he targets more vulnerable parts of the body to intimidate his opponents.
However, I see the hit Wednesday in a different way. Rutuu is responsible for everything that happened in the play, and he must be more careful. However, I don’t think that there was any intent of a head shot at Kaleta.
If you look at the replay, Rutuu hit the shoulder before he hit the head. To me, it looked like any contact to the head was a glancing blow that wouldn’t have caused an injury. I think that the injury was caused when Kaleta’s head bounced off the boards after the hit to his shoulder.
A hit to the shoulder is not illegal. However, players do need to be responsible. Given Rutuu's record, I can see giving him a five minute penalty for boarding, but I have a hard time seeing more than that. There’s just not enough evidence to say that he took a run at Kaleta’s head.
If you would like to see more of my opinions on what's going on in the NHL, check out my blog at TipsForHockey.com