When Ruutu signed with Ottawa last summer, it came with a Surgeon General-like warning that read: Jarkko Ruutu flirts with a fine line as he plays the game of hockey. As Senators fans, remember to look the other way every time because he’s fun to watch. And, in those occasions where he does cross the line, remember to say, “Oh that’s Jarkko being Jarkko.”
I’ve spent the entire day trying to decide where I stand on the issue and here’s my take. What Jarkko did was incredibly dumb or completely natural. Why is this relevant? Well, it really depends on what was happening inside of Ruutu’s mouth. I think what’s getting lost in the context of the incident is why Peters had his finger inside of Ruutu’s mouth. Did it go in while he was facewashing Jarkko? Or was he trying to fishhook him? If it’s the latter, I believe the natural reaction would be to bite someone’s finger.
Perhaps my favorite moment from this incident was the picture adorning the front page of the Ottawa Citizen’s sports section. (It is the picture at the top of this piece.) The look of bewilderment on the Senators bench is so raw and it really strips down and characterizes the players’ human nature. The look on Brendan Bell’s face alone, is priceless. I can only imagine what was being said on the bench as players keyed in on what had just transpired.
“What happened to that gigantic asshole’s hand? Did he punch Ruutu’s helmet?”
“No, I think…I think Ruutu bit…him.”
“Ruutu bit him? That’s fucking weak!”
“I know, Emery would have fought him!”
And that’s the telling part from that picture. This incident wasn’t funny, justifiable or inspiring in any way. It occurred towards the end of the first period and the Senators didn’t really begin to turn their game around until halfway through the second. Despite some video footage and Peters’ cut thumb seem, Ruutu refused to admit guilt. As I watched his post-game interview, it was clear that he doesn’t seem to care at all, not even that a suspension* could harm Ottawa’s already slight chance to make the postseason.
* Ruutu, as a repeat offender, is probably going to face a suspension longer than the 1-game suspension that Marc Savard received for biting Darcy Tucker in 2003.
EDIT, 3:52PM: Ruutu has been handed a 2-game Suspension by the League.