RALEIGH — While remorseful about his violent hit on Darcy Tucker, Tuomo Ruutu of the Carolina Hurricanes said Monday he's not about to change his game or his style of play.
Ruutu received a three-game suspension from the NHL for his hit from behind on Tucker, a rugged forward for the Colorado Avalanche. The collision came in the second period of the Hurricanes' game Friday in Denver, causing Tucker's head to slam into the glass and knocking him unconscious.
Tucker, who was carried from the ice on a backboard, suffered a concussion and cuts. The Avalanche placed Tucker on the injured list Monday, and he will be sidelined indefinitely. Saturday, Ruutu was handed the first suspension of his career.
"It was a bad hit by me," Ruutu said. "I wasn't really worried about the suspension. I was worried about [Tucker].
"It looked pretty bad. It just happened. I think he's doing better. I'm so sorry about what happened, but everything happened so quickly. I wish I could get it back, but I can't."
What Ruutu said he did do was call Tucker and apologize.
"I'm glad that nothing serious really happened," Ruutu said. "I talked to him, and I was glad to hear that he was doing better. He was really good to me, and that makes me feel a little better."
Ruutu said he accepted the three-game suspension, saying he believed the league was trying to "send a message" about such hits. But he also insisted the consequences from the incident would not cause him to ease up on checks or stop throwing his body around.
"I think that's why I'm in the NHL ... and not playing somewhere in Europe," Ruutu said. "That's the way I play. I'll just try to move on and be a little more careful in the future."
Canes coach Paul Maurice said Monday that he would expect nothing less than the same physical, at times rambunctious, brand of play from Ruutu that has made the Finnish winger so effective, so punishing.
"This isn't a guy who head-hunts or over the course of the year you have to sit him down and say he has to come off some of these hits," Maurice said. "He's just a hard hockey player to play against, and he's physically a very strong man.
"That hit was generated with straight force. It wasn't driven up. [Ruutu] didn't leave his feet."
As for Ruutu calling Tucker, Maurice said it was "a classy thing for him to do ... because that's not his game."
The Canes (2-5-3) will be without Ruutu in the next two games -- Wednesday at home against the St. Louis Blues, then Saturday against the Flyers at Philadelphia. Carolina already is missing forward Erik Cole, who has been sidelined with a leg fracture but did some light skating Monday, and defenseman Tim Gleason, who has an upper-body injury.
The Hurricanes placed Cole on injured reserve Saturday and called up Brandon Sutter from the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League. The team made another move Monday, placing veteran forward Stephane Yelle on waivers.
Sutter played Friday night for the Rats, hopped on a plane Saturday morning and arrived at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., just in time to play against the Minnesota Wild. He centered the third line with Jussi Jokinen and Sergei Samsonov on the wings and had more than 12 minutes of ice time in the Canes' 3-2 overtime loss.
"It was a long day, an interesting day," Sutter said Monday. "But at the end of the day I was just happy to be coming up and was thrilled to be there.
"That's the way hockey is. When somebody goes down or something happens, it brings up an opportunity for someone. I'm just going to enjoy it and have fun with it and try to help the team and prove to them that maybe I can have the chance to stay."
email@example.com or 919-829-8945