(PRESS RELEASE: Penguins sign forward Jarkko Ruutu)
Penguins General Manager Ray Shero wants players with desire.
Players who strive to get better, fight for every puck and battle relentlessly.
As well as players who put the team first.
Jarkko Ruutu fits this job description, which is why he’ll be wearing a Penguins uniform this season.
Ruutu isn’t a flashy goal-scorer or a captivating playmaker. However, he may be the hardest-working guy on the ice at any given time.
“My game is basically working hard and fighting for every single puck and every inch,” he said. “I try to keep the game simple. My game is a lot of work; that’s probably the best way to describe it.”
And if you get in his way while he’s trying to do his job?
Just ask former Penguin Jaromir Jagr, who got in Ruutu’s way during a game at the Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, between Jagr’s Czech Republic squad and Ruutu’s Team Finland. Jagr was crushed into the boards and left the game.
“I like hitting,” Ruutu said.
Ruutu is looking forward to the opportunity in Pittsburgh.
“It’s a new start for me and a new organization,” he said. “I am really excited to come to a team that has the best young talent in the whole league.”
Ruutu played against Sidney Crosby in the World Championship this year and now looks forward to skating alongside Crosby and the Penguins’ other young and talented players.
“I think that’s great. The last year wasn’t as good as people wanted, but it’s going to be really exciting this year,” he said. “Sidney is a great player. He has unbelievable vision and he’s real competitive. He had a great year in his rookie year and he’s only getting older and better so that’s the bonus. All the other younger guys are a year older and more experienced, too. It’s going to be really exciting.”
A 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, Ruutu is listed as a winger. However, he has played forward and defense during his six-year NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks.
“I don’t really care where I play. I played it all,” he said. “I played D; I played forward. I played every position.”
Ruutu enjoyed a successful international year as he helped Team Finland win silver at the Winter Olympics and bronze at the World Championship.
“Every time you get a chance to play for your country, it is an honor. We really deserved both [medals]. Although we wanted to win, we just didn’t have enough in the end,” he said. “It shows every team can make it real far as long as they are a team and work hard. When you have that mentality, then you are real tough to beat.”
The Finns surprised opponents with their medal runs this year.
“You don’t have to have the best talent in the world. As long as you work hard and do everything you can, that’s all you can ask for and it will really take you far,” Ruutu said. “I felt that and experienced that with Team Finland. We didn’t have the best talent, but we had the team mentality and the hard work and everybody was playing for the team and not themselves. I am sure Ray is asking that too in Pittsburgh.”
Ruutu hopes to reinforce that mentality in Pittsburgh.
“I like the style that you get what you deserve and there are no special privileges,” he said. “I think the biggest thing for me [signing with Pittsburgh] was the interest Pittsburgh showed. According to Ray, I will get a chance to play a lot more and I am going to get rewarded for the hard work. He really made me feel wanted.”
Jarkko’s brother, Tuomo, plays for the Chicago Blackhawks.
“He is playing his own career but obviously I am watching him closely,” he said. “I am really proud to have a brother to play with in the NHL.”