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Ruff on Kaleta: “He’s a marked man”

Jan 12, 2012, 11:21 AM EDT

Patrick Kaleta Getty Images

Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff knows Patrick Kaleta has a reputation throughout the NHL.

Now he’s concerned that reputation is affecting Kaleta’s ability to play the game.

After watching Kaleta receive two charging penalties in three games — calls he deemed questionable — Ruff told reporters he thinks Kaleta has a target on his back.

“Kaleta just can’t hit anybody anymore. He can’t,” Ruff told the Buffalo News. “Everytime he hits somebody it’s a penalty. He knows that. He can’t hit anymore.”

Kaleta most recent charging penalty came after he hit Mikhail Grabovski during the third period of Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to Toronto. Ruff was outraged by the call.

“I don’t think good hits should be taken out of the game,” he said. “I understand there’s a level of concern with what’s gone on with concussions but you can’t take good hits out of the game.”

That said, Ruff must know this situation is more about the player than the hits. Kaleta is widely regarded as one of the league’s dirtiest, annoying and most despised individuals and was recently suspended four games for serial headbutting.

In response to Kaleta (seemingly) getting penalized every time he hits someone, Ruff expressed concern that his chief agitator might be drummed out of the league.

“He’s going to have to change the way he hits,” Ruff explained. “He can’t come from a distance it looks like…it is disappointing.

“I’m worried. He’s a marked man, definitely a marked man.”

  1. vshehane - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    This kind of thing is frustrating but it happens all of the time. It really illustrates the inconsistency of the officiating in the NHL. It gets to be such a personal thing when it shouldn’t be. Let’s face it the officials make the calls they want to make without much fear of repercussion.

    • elvispocomo - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:30 PM

      I’d have to say with most things where there’s smoke there’s fire. Kaleta’s decision-making around the things he does like headbutts show he doesn’t quite have it figured out when it comes to player respect and what is (and is not) acceptable. Maybe you make the mistake once, but you have every chance to learn from it so you don’t get a reputation.

  2. tjv027 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:22 PM

    Lindy Ruff is the Jeff Fisher of the NHL. He’s this tremendously respected and established coach, but if you shove his resume in someone’s face and ask them why he’s so respected, you’re unlikely to get a credible answer. Keep whining, Lindy. Whine yourself right to the unemployment line.

  3. drewsylvania - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:24 PM

    Hypocrite much, Lindy?

  4. riles1008 - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:31 PM

    Every team in the NFL is knocking down Jeff Fishers door right now. Not exactly a great example. How is Lindy a hypocrite? He’s upset with Ryan Miller being leveled and nothing being done about it. Teams like Boston go around all year playing like total scumbags and the league has finally done something by suspending that piece of sh*t Marchand. Kaleta is a bum. He’s awful with the puck and can’t even fight. Most times he either backs down or gets his butt whooped. He gets hurt all the time. Buffalo should drop scum like him and bring someone like Kassian back up. Kassian can hit, fight and make offensive plays.

  5. ballistictrajectory - Jan 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    When you have inconsistent enforcement, emotional calling instead of sticking to the rules, and then a string of blantly bad calls you are going to see more than a few irate coaches. This is something we see right now.

    If you’re on the ice and you actually perceive what could be a penalty you put your arm up. At that point your “brethren out there”, the linesmen and the other ref should have an opportunity to intervene at the next whistle and potentially overrule the original call. Yes, it has potential for abuse. Everything does. If a ref accrues let’s say a rolling window of 10 such instances in a half season (41 games) someone pulls his taped calls and does an analysis. If the guy’s been slumbering through games let hime have it. Lately the NFL has been picking up the flag with a statement from the ref after a chat. Some of those takebacks are doozies.

    Yes it kind of stops play and slows the game down. So here’s the warroom approach: Every penalty called is reviewed automatically. If video review shows that there is no penalty, a neutral faceoff takes place. Again, if the ref in question starts blowing a lot of calls then the league should inqure as to “what’s the deal”. This might add 10 minutes to the event schedule. Since a game is falls reliably within a 3 hour block, even with these new 10 minutes there’s no real damage to the sport.

    Let’s see some accountability for the refs. If they fail to adequately penalize a clearly malicious act then get a few minutes in the box themselves.

    • elvispocomo - Jan 12, 2012 at 1:40 PM

      Refs are human, so I don’t agree that they are doing anything purposefully or due to emotion rather than logic, but I do agree on accountability.

      Public accountability, like having big brother in the warroom (imagine how busy they’d get many nights, that’s just logistically not sound) able to overturn your decision on the spot, isn’t going to help. Imagine how you would feel if someone instantly checked the decisions you made at work and then hit reply all on the email to let you know you were wrong? All that would do is take the good refs out of the game along with the bad. If you can’t trust them to make a decision, then why have them?

      What is needed is more accountability afterwards, where problems are addressed and discipline is handed out for those that don’t do their job. There is that structure in place and it should have acceptable allowances for mistakes, but we hardly ever if at all hear about the results.

      The NHL has taken the steps to be transparent and specific about suspensions, now they need to apply some of that to the reffing. The biggest problems in the game aren’t realignment, salaries or teams not making money, it’s illegal play and how they’re judged on the ice.

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