Devils vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Ruutu Sure He Wanted to Stay

Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 6:00 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Ruutu Sure He Wanted to Stay
It might have caused many to sweat, but in the end, the Carolina Hurricanes and Tuomo Ruutu got what they wanted.

Michael Smith
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Ruutu signed a four-year contract extension on Wednesday, which keeps him, along with Eric Staal, Cam Ward and Tim Gleason, with the Hurricanes through the 2015-16 season. This officially removes one of the most coveted forwards from the market with the trade deadline now just five days away.

Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford made it clear how he views Ruutu’s role on the team, saying he’d be “extremely difficult to replace.” The team wanted to keep him in the fold, and Ruutu was more than happy and overly grateful that he was given the opportunity to stay.

“Most of all, the people – on my team, in this organization and Raleigh overall,” Ruutu said, when asked what made him want to re-sign. “I like being here, and I really think we have a good future.

“I’ve still felt comfortable throughout the whole process. I’ve been sure about what I wanted to do, and I’m really happy that they wanted to have me here.”

Even though the Ruutu knew he wanted to stay from the get-go, he pointed to the meeting he had with Rutherford on the Canes’ most recent road trip in which they discussed the future.

“For me, a really big thing is that we have great team chemistry,” Ruutu said. “We have great guys, guys that really care. I think that’s the only way we can win, and I know we have it in here, so I’m excited to stay.”

When Gleason signed an extension at the end of January, he mentioned friendships playing a big part in his desire to remain a Hurricane. They’re special and hard to come by, he said. The 29-year-old Ruutu echoed that and said they are “most important.”

“I want to win, but I think you can only win with good relationships with good people around you,” he said. “Every time I come to the rink, I have fun. I like being around the guys.

“It’s not just players; it’s team staff, trainers, equipment guys, they’re all good people. That’s the way to be successful – be surrounded by good people.”

The Canes believe the Vantaa, Finland native is one of those good people. They saw that when they acquired him from the Chicago Blackhawks in a February trade four years ago. They also see his value as a top-six forward who can score 25 goals and eclipse 50 points.

Before being injured, Ruutu led the team in goals with 17. Had he played all 82 games, he was on pace for nearly 25 goals and over 40 points. He had a career season in 2008-09, netting 26 goals and recording 28 assists (54 points) in 79 games.

He also brings the intangibles with a big body that can clear room for his linemates. Ruutu ranks second on the team in hits with 106 and is a plus-3.

“I want to be a big piece of this team, and [the Canes] probably think that way, as well,” Ruutu said. “I do what I do, and I don’t really think of how big a piece I am. I try to be as big as I can.”

For the last few months, Ruutu’s name has daily been thrown into trade discussions. It’s no shock that playoff-bound teams would want a guy like him in the locker room and on the ice. He's got over 500 games of NHL experience, 289 of which have been with the Hurricanes, and he's had a taste of the playoffs (during the 08-09 campagin).

And even though prior to this year, Rutherford did not negotiate contracts mid-season, Ruutu never really thought about life outside of a Hurricanes’ sweater.

“The last couple of weeks, I haven’t paid much attention,” he said. “A month and a half ago, I didn’t usually read that stuff, but I heard it from the guys and from my friends. At that point, it’s like ‘Ok, what’s going on?’

“For me, the toughest part has been I just want to play. I want to concentrate on playing good hockey,” he said. “All the other stuff, I want the other people that know how to do that stuff take care of that. I’ll try to do my job and play.”

Currently, though, Ruutu can’t play, as he’s sidelined with an upper-body injury, suffered on Feb. 13 in Montreal. An MRI the next day revealed he’d miss approximately three weeks, which puts his return still close to 15 days away. Ruutu said that timetable is still accurate, but added that it would be “hopefully less.”

“It’s frustrating to be out, and I would definitely want to be out there and play and help do my part,” he said. “If we keep winning, I’ll keep a smile on my face even if I’m hurt.”

He was smiling today, and that smile will stay in Raleigh for four more years.



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 73 47 19 7 224 168 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 75 46 22 7 244 194 99
4 NYI 75 44 26 5 228 208 93
5 PIT 74 40 23 11 204 186 91
6 DET 73 39 22 12 212 201 90
7 WSH 74 40 24 10 215 182 90
8 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
9 BOS 74 36 25 13 195 193 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 75 30 29 16 196 216 76
12 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
13 CBJ 73 34 35 4 198 228 72
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 68 20 27 -13 47
J. Faulk 73 14 32 -18 46
E. Lindholm 72 16 20 -21 36
J. Skinner 68 18 12 -22 30
V. Rask 71 11 19 -12 30
R. Nash 67 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 69 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 73 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 45 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 37 4 15 -9 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 19 21 5 .910 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62