There was a lot of back-and-forth between the Hurricanes and Tuomo Ruutu
over the length of a potential new contract, but in the end, both sides appear to have gotten what they wanted.
Ruutu agreed to a three-year deal with Carolina on Thursday morning, ending a process that started about a month ago and was scheduled to end at an arbitration hearing on July 30 at the latest. As per arbitration rules, Ruutu would have received no more than a one-year contract from that hearing.
“My preference was to stay longer than one year,” said Ruutu on a phone call from his native Finland. “After the season I really liked being in Carolina so much, and if it’s just one year you don’t know what’s going to happen when the trade deadline comes up, so I preferred the three-year deal.”
That was also the preference of the Hurricanes, as General Manager Jim Rutherford was hopeful all along that the team could secure the player’s services for a longer term after a season in which he set career highs in every offensive category and trailed only Eric Staal in team goal-scoring
Both sides were also hopeful that the manner would be concluded before the upcoming arbitration hearing, one way or another. Despite admittedly letting his agent handle the majority of the contract talks, Ruutu made his opinion clear in that regard.
“To be honest, I told my agent that I didn’t want to go to arbitration,” he said. “I wanted to get this done, and I’ve heard it’s never nice to go to arbitration. I wanted to stay for a longer period of time.”
Although he kept in touch with countrymen and fellow Hurricanes Jussi Jokinen and Joni Pitkanen throughout the summer, Ruutu said that their presence wasn’t the main reason for his desire to settle in Carolina for the next few seasons.
“During the process we joked about it and stuff like that, but in the end it wasn’t the case,” he said. “It’s obviously nice to have them, but the main reason was that I really enjoyed being there. I like the city, I like the fans and I like playing in that organization. I don’t think that the grass is greener anywhere else.”
Ruutu said he’s hoping to make the seven-hour drive north to see Jokinen and Pitkanen before the summer is over, but if nothing else he’ll see them at Finland’s Olympic camp in August. All three players have been invited to the meetings, which are not expected to include on-ice sessions as per the NHL Players’ Associations recent concerns about adequate insurance.