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Hitchcock on Ruutu’s hit: “What’s wrong with our game?”

Mar 15, 2012, 11:24 PM EDT

Stingy defense and stout goaltending are what make the St. Louis Blues a dominant team, but opponents shouldn’t dismiss their diverse offense. That group took a hit – literally and figuratively – when Tuomo Ruutu sent Andy McDonald into the boards during the Blues’ 2-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

The one bit of potentially decent news is that it appears that McDonald’s “upper-body injury” is related to his right shoulder rather than more concussion issues, at least from Jeremy Rutherford’s initial reports.

Speaking of which, Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock didn’t quite call the hit suspension-worthy, but felt that Ruutu’s check provided another example of the NHL’s collective moral dilemma.

“I didn’t like the hit,” Hitchcock said. “I thought the hit was certainly a penalty, whether it’s a suspension or not, who knows? But that’s what’s wrong with our game? The player was in a vulnerable position. He knocked his stick to knock him off balance and then pushed him hard into the boards. It’s a real tough play in hockey.”

Losing McDonald – again

While the Blues are accustomed to playing without McDonald these days, he was a real difference-maker in his scarce appearances this season. In just 21 games, McDonald has nine goals and 19 points. He carried a six-game points streak (four goals, five assists) and had points in nine of 10 contests before tonight’s loss.

Hitchcock gave a matter-of-fact response to possibly losing McDonald, who will be re-evaluated on Friday:

“We’ve got some adversity,” Hitchcock said. “Every team has it this time of year, we’ll just have to deal with it. We’ve dealt with it all year long.”

Punishment for Ruutu?

You’ve heard Hitchcock’s take and had a chance to review the video, so share your perspective. Does Ruutu deserve a fine, suspension or nothing at all for that hit on McDonald?

Either way, it’s the kind of loss that could make the Blues’ playoff bandwagon a little bit lighter.

  1. Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Mar 15, 2012 at 11:43 PM

    No way in hell it’s suspension-worthy. Not even sure it’s worth a fine, but I probably wouldn’t argue too vehemently against one.

  2. atteckus - Mar 16, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    Certainly not suspension-worthy. I might say 2 minutes for cross checking him in the butt. But McDonald went down because he lost an edge or toe-picked, couldn’t see which it was because his skates were not in full view. No way that Ruutu had time to know he was going to be so vulnerable.

  3. warpstonebc - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    Here’s the thing, it looks like a really soft bit of work, but it’s such a cheap play. It’s like a slewfoot or can-opener: guys can do this all day if they really want to.

    Hits shouldn’t be suspension worthy only because they’re hard. Ruttu pulled off a classic weasel move and will probably not get any discipline for it. But when the refs and the league condone this BS, you’ve really got to shake your head.

  4. bigtganks - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:48 AM

    Exactly Hitchcock. There is something wrong with our game… when coaches like you claim something that it’s not.

    Pang had four different looks at it (and is a Blues guy) and said “His left skate toe picks…I don’t see anything wrong there, looks like he lost his balance with his left skate.”

    • Chip Caray's Eyebrows - Mar 16, 2012 at 11:39 PM

      …and it’s rare to find anything of this nature the Blues’ ridiculous homer broadcasters won’t whine about.

  5. rainyday56 - Mar 16, 2012 at 3:51 AM

    What’s wrong with the game you ask Hitch? I’ll tell you: the top man (commish) can’t skate. You and Lemaire sucked the soul from the game with your trapping and J.F. Allaire f’d up the coolest job in sports with his cookie cutter goaltending theories. No wonder there is a general lack of respect among the players. For the good of the game, the blues have to go in the first round and have your arse fired tout de suite.

  6. rainyday56 - Mar 16, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    PS. McDonald is a Compo all star. Trade him to Buffalo for Coho and trade picks in the off season .

  7. bcjim - Mar 16, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    Look in the mirror, Ken.

    YOU are what is wrong with hockey.

  8. solador78 - Mar 16, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Unlike most hits of this nature (Chara), Ruutu turned around to check on McDonald with a sick-to-his-stomach look on his face.

    It doesn’t excuse the hit, but at the same time it doesn’t look like he meant for it to turn out that way.

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