The Ruutu Hit.
Look, I’m on record as being against the type of hits Ruutu delivered on Kaleta. Personally, I think it should be both a penalty (unsportmanlike conduct) and suspension eligible. But, that’s my personal opinion. In terms of the rulebook, that hit wasn’t even a penalty. Kaleta was not “boarded”. He was hit from the side (albeit blind, but that’s not a penalty), with a shoulder. The fact he was injured is not the makings of a penalty. It was not boarding, it was not elbowing, it was not charging.
Some pundits even went so far as to criticize the fact that Ruutu didn’t try to play the puck, just deliver the hit, as evidence the hit should result in a suspension.
How many hits are delivered AFTER a pass, with the puck nowhere in sight? How many hits are delivered in front of the net, without any attention paid to the puck itself?
So many that, if this were in fact the criteria for suspension, the NHL would be in desperate need of eligible players.
So my issue is this; If Ruutu’s hit wasn’t a penalty, by the letter of the rulebook, how can a suspension be justified, without first altering the rules? This goes to integrity. You cannot create new rules out of thin air, based upon nefarious criteria, criteria I might add, that were not present in the past. In the past that hit has been made frequently, without penalty, so why now? Wouldn’t Richards also have deserved a 5 Minute penalty? I won’t even get into Kaleta himself through-out his illustrious career.
Change the rule, THEN apply it, but to inject a new rule, without any actual rulebook change, is absurd, and provides further evidence that this league operates in a very ad hoc manner, with no respect for their own rulebook.
Again, I think it should be a penalty, and suspension eligible, but, two wrongs don’t make a right. You can’t scapegoat Ruutu, in order to avoid facing the reality that the league has done nothing official to address this type of hit.