Ruutu suspended for three games

STAFF WRITEROctober 24, 2009 

Staff

Colorado Avalanche head athletic trainer Matthew Sokolowski attends to Darcy Tucker after he was hit by Hurricane Tuomo Ruutu (not pictured) as the officials diffuse the players during the game in in Denver on Friday night, Oct. 23, 2009.

DOUG PENSINGER — Getty Images photo by Doug Pensinger

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The hit was like so many Tuomo Ruutu has made for the Carolina Hurricanes.

It was made with a purpose, with force, causing a big impact along the boards, leaving an opposing player down on the ice.

But this time, the fallen player didn't get up. This time, Ruutu received a three-game suspension from the NHL for making the big hit.

Early in the second period of the Hurricanes' game Friday against the Colorado Avalanche in Denver, Ruutu hit the Avs' Darcy Tucker from behind, causing Tucker to go face-first into the glass. Tucker was knocked unconscious and bloodied. He had to be strapped to a backboard, removed from the Pepsi Center ice and taken to a hospital.

Ruutu, who had a goal and an assist in the game, received a five-minute boarding major and a game misconduct. The Avalanche scored on the power play after the incident and went on to win 5-4.

After reviewing the play, the league announced the suspension Saturday morning.

"We're disappointed that we're going to lose an important player for three games," Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said Saturday. "The league has a process, they have to go through it. We respect their decision.

"And, nobody ever likes to see a player get injured. We hope the best for Darcy Tucker and hope he has a speedy recovery."

Asked if he believed the hit warranted a suspension, Maurice said: "That's an excellent question. I think the league makes its decision and we all abide by it, regardless of our opinion.

"There were things not present in the hit that I'm glad weren't: (Ruutu) didn't leave his feet. It wasn't an elbow, Darcy (Tucker) wasn't four feet off the boards where it could have been a real catastrophic event. He was right on the boards.

"It was a very, very hard hit that had an unfortunate result. But I expect Tuomo to finish that check."

Under the terms of the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement, Ruutu will forfeit $59,067.36, which will go to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.

The Hurricanes already were missing forward Erik Cole, who has been sidelined with a leg fracture and was placed on injured reserve Saturday. Tim Gleason, one of the Canes' top defenseman, missed the Colorado game with an upper-body injury and was not expected to play Saturday night against the Minnesota Wild.

The Hurricanes called up center Brandon Sutter from the Albany River Rats, the team's American Hockey League affiliate. Sutter, the team's No. 1 draft pick in 2007, was scheduled to play against the Wild.

Sutter was knocked unconscious after being hit in the head by Doug Weight of the New York Islanders early last season. Weight was not penalized for the play and not suspended. Sutter missed eight games with a concussion.

In the 2005-2006 season, Cole suffered a broken neck after being hit from behind by Brooks Orpik of the Pittsburgh Penguins and ramming into the boards. Orpik was given a three-game suspension while Cole missed 45 games at the end of the regular season and in the playoffs.

The Denver Post reported Saturday that Tucker suffered a concussion but had been released from the hospital and was resting at home.

chip.alexander@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8945

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