On Jarkko Ruutu

Ruutu Got The Hoodoo

Well, the Senators season has ended for this year.  A first round exit from the playoffs is disappointing, but also expected, given that the team was missing one of its top scorers (Michalek), its game-breaking crafty veteran (Kovalev), and a key offensive defenseman (Kuba).  To add insult to these unfortunate injuries, that gap-toothed homicidal fucktard Dany Heatley looks to be coasting into the Conference Finals in his new ill-gotten home, San Jose.

But rather than dwell on these negativities, I would prefer to make some remarks about the play of Jarkko Ruutu who, with 12 goals and 26 points, had a career year.  While this is not exactly scoring of Spezzanic proportions, it’s not bad at all for a guy who plays eight minutes or so a game, much of it on the penalty kill.

Fig. 1: The Greatest Iced Hockey Player Of All Time

The main reason why I love Ruutu so much is that, more so than any other ice-hockeyist, he plays the game.  He always seems to have an enormous amount of fun on the ice, often at the expense of opposing players.  Skating around, bumping into players with that shit-eating grin all the time, he approaches hockey with the same verve and jouissance with which Captain Beefheart approaches music.  His fourth-line shifts are the most entertaining of the game.

Considered around the league to be an obnoxious pest, Ruutu is only truly understood by fans of the teams he has played for.  A master of the agitatory arts, he manipulates his opponents, pestering them just enough to keep their rage at a simmering seethe and then provoking them into taking a penalty.  A noted chess player, Ruutu is always twelve steps ahead of his foes, watching over the game with zen-like guile, waiting for just the right moment to let loose a well-aimed chirp.  Or, he could just goad Dion Phaneuf into fighting him, then, once the big defenceman has dropped his gloves, slyly trip him up and hop onto the bench.

Fig. 2: Part bat. All awesome.

Despite his less than stellar reputation outside of Pittsburgh, Vancouver, and Ottawa (not to mention ugly aspersions of cannibalism), Ruutu draws regular praise for his hard hits, persistent net presence, and ability to fight (he allegedly likes to start slow to tire his fisticuffical interlocutor out before despatching the deathblow with an acid rain of right hooks).   Though undoubtedly true, this acclaim casts Ruutu as your typical flailing big body (the Chris Neil archetype) and neglects his incredible creativity.  And soccer skills.

Because of his anarchic spirit, Ruutu can beguile opposing players with his unpredictability, leading to unexpected scoring chances.  Often his goals are considered flukey, but that’s because Ruutu, ever the subtle master, is able to mask his genius as blind chance.

I recall one time when he and Chris Kelly broke into the opposing zone while shorthanded.  Ruutu crossed the blueline on the right wing and seemed to lose control of the puck, which drifted off towards the boards.  Seeing what he thought was a 2-on-1 breaking up, the defenceman relaxed somewhat, allowing Ruutu to grab the puck (he’d never really lost control) and flip it over to Kelly for the tuck-in.

Fig. 3: The secret's in the string.

Not for no reason is he included in the shoot-out line-up.  Moreover, the fact that such an agitator would also be a stellar penalty-killer speaks to his discipline.  Indeed, Ruutu could score 50 goals if he wanted.  Hell, being able to manipulate the very fabric of space-time, he could score several thousand.  But he doesn’t, cause it wouldn’t be fair.  By the same token, Predators waive their usual policy of not attacking unarmed people when they see Jarkko Ruutu, but no matter, the Finn always wins, and the Predator ends up with the instigator misconduct.

The Prose Edda tells us that, in his Loki incarnation, Ruutu shall steer the ship Naglfar out of Muspellheim signalling the beginning of Ragnarok.  He shall do this on a break from the penalty box after serving a double minor for roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct on former teammate Thor.  Also, his dog, Fenrir, once bit Alex Kovalev.

Fig. 4: Ruutu chirping away at the Table of the Gods.

As a Trickster, like the Coyote in First Nations mythology, Ruutu ensures that balance is maintained between the forces of good and evil here in Midgard, middle-earth.  For example, when the Senators have a really good cycle game going and are getting shots on net whilst still maintaining puck possession, Ruutu restores the balance in the game by dishing out a gratuitous elbow to an enemy defender and taking a penalty.

He can also turn into a salmon and is most likely an excellent driver.

Fig. 5: Ruutu decides it's time to skip this shit and head to the Warp Zone.

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~ by Isaac Bickerstaff on May 6, 2010.

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