Jarkko Ruutu will be forced to sit out Game 5 of the Ducks’ first-round playoff series Friday as a result of his hit on Predators forward Martin Erat in Game 4 Wednesday in Nashville.
Unlike the league’s two-game suspension of Bobby Ryan earlier in the series, no explanation was offered Thursday in the form of a quote from disciplinarian Colin Campbell. Here’s how the full press release read:
Anaheim Ducks forward Jarkko Ruutu has been suspended for one game for
delivering a late hit to Nashville Predators forward Martin Erat in Game
Four of their Western Conference quarterfinal last night, the National
Hockey League announced today.
The incident occurred 4:00 into the second period and Ruutu was assessed a minor penalty for interference on the play.
Ruutu’s suspension will be served tomorrow night (April 22) when the Ducks host the Predators in Game Five of the series.
And here’s what the hit looked like. Judge for yourself:
Ruutu left the Ducks’ afternoon practice early Thursday to participate in a conference call with the league, and did not speak to reporters afterward.
Before the suspension was announced, head coach Randy Carlyle offered his pointed thoughts on the disciplinary hearing.
“To me it’s absurd that there’s even mention of a hearing when a guy has a shoulder-on-shoulder body check,” Carlyle said. “… They’re saying that it was so many tenths of a second that they allow — this was two tenths, three tenths of a second past the allowable point. It’s kind of mind-boggling at times.”
Although the definition of a “late hit” hasn’t been specified in writing by the league, “that’s part of the criteria they have obviously established,” Carlyle said.
The word from Nashville is that Erat has an “upper-body injury” and won’t dress for Game 5. Predators head coach Barry Trotz offered a different opinion from Carlyle, telling reporters “It was a late hit. The Ducks are whining and complaining that they’re the ones being targeted or whatever. They’ve had guys suspended, late hit, we lose a good player.”
Ruutu has only appeared in two of the four games of the series, averaging 6:04 time on ice.
Erat, who has been skating at left wing on a line with David Legwand and Joel Ward, has a goal and two assists in the four games while averaging 15:34.
Two other players were absent at practice: Ryan Getzlaf and Ray Emery got “maintenance days,” Carlyle said. Dan Ellis and Igor Bobkov were the two goalies in practice.
Jonas Hiller is back in Southern California, but is back only to get rest and further treatment for his vertigo symptoms.