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by Erin Pollina / Buffalo Sabres
Pat Kaleta (Getty Images)
Jarkko Ruutu isn’t gaining any fans in the Buffalo Sabres dressing room.

After laying a controversial hit on Pat Kaleta in the second period of Wednesday’s match-up in Ottawa, the Senators’ winger simply added to a list of issues.

“That guy’s got a history,” centerman Paul Gaustad said. “There’s not a lot of respect for that guy and what he does.”

In the past, Ruutu’s actions have included biting enforcer Andrew Peters [1/6/09], which he was later suspended for by the League, as well as getting involved in an argument with Adam Mair in the hallways of HSBC Arena [10/28/09] during a heated third period.

The incident on Wednesday night did nothing to change the sentiment. Less than a minute into the middle frame of Ottawa’s 2-0 win at ScotiaBank Place, Kaleta gained control of the puck along the halfwall. Ruutu then delivered a hard hit from behind, sending Kaleta’s head bouncing off the boards [Click here to see the hit].

“He went right for the head I thought,” Gaustad said. “From up there [in the press box] it looked like it.”


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Kaleta did not return to the game. Ruutu received a five-minute major for boarding.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, that penalty may be the extent of his punishment as the League has decided not to suspend the winger for his actions. Rather, “Ruutu was fined an undisclosed amount by the NHL for his hit to the head.” [Click here for more]

Kaleta was absent from practice Thursday morning at HSBC Arena, although the team was missing several players on the ice. Head Coach Lindy Ruff said he has no timetable on Kaleta’s return, and is not sure if the winger will even miss Friday’s match-up against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Right now [he has] a real stiff neck,” Ruff said following the team’s workout on Thursday. “He’s had the neck issues in the past so we’ll wait and see what he’s doing tomorrow.”

Kaleta missed 27 games last season with head/neck injuries.

“Looking at it, it was a glancing blow to the head,” Ruff said of the hit. “[The refs] felt that they didn’t see an injury on the play. I argued that we’ve lost a player. I know it’s not where you see blood or anything, but it’s an injury where the player has neck problems, has head problems and can’t finish the game.

“It might have been accidental on his part, but it’s still a hit like Pat Kaleta got suspended for. It’s similar to those. I believe that it’s in the same category. Our player missed the rest of the game and Pat has been playing very well for us. You could argue that he’s been one of our better players.”

Ruutu has been suspended twice by the NHL. He received a two-game suspension in November 2008 hitting Montreal’s Maxim Lapierre with an elbow. He also was suspended for two games stemming from the incident with Peters in January 2009.
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