Hockey

Ottawa's Ruutu suspended 2 games

Ottawa Senators forward Jarkko Ruutu was suspended for two games by the National Hockey League on Wednesday.

Ottawa Senators forward Jarkko Ruutu was suspended for two games by the National Hockey League on Wednesday.

The penalty comes less than 24 hours after Ruutu appeared to chomp on the gloved thumb of Buffalo Sabres enforcer Andrew Peters during a scuffle between the benches late in the first period of their game Tuesday night.

"Obviously, I'm happy about it and glad the NHL took notice," Peters said, still wearing a bandage around his bitten right thumb while attending a roast for his coach Lindy Ruff Wednesday night in Buffalo.

"That's all I could ask for. It's a good result at the end of the day. It's a fair penalty."

Ruutu had a disciplinary hearing by telephone with Colin Campbell, the league's senior executive vice-president of hockey operations.

"Nothing happened there," Ruutu said after the game. "His fingers were by my mouth, but I didn't bite him."

Peters yelped in pain as he was bit and promptly pursued Ruutu, earning an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for his efforts.

"It's a pretty goofy thing that happened," Peters said. "It's not the injury, it's the incident.

"Just the fact that that happened, it's unfortunate. It's not good for the game of hockey."

Peters said he was still stunned by the incident on Wednesday and said even he wouldn't go to that extreme in the heat of battle.

"It's not really the thumb that's the issue, it's the incident that took place," Peters said following a team meeting prior to the suspension. 

"It's weird to even think that goes on in hockey. Even in my role, I would never think of doing something like that."

The Buffalo winger shrugged his shoulders when told of Ruutu's denial after the game.

"I don't think if I did something that stupid I'd really be admitting to it either," Peters said. "It goes too far for any player. It doesn't matter who you are — it's not part of hockey."

Ruutu, 33, has been on both sides of discipline-related incidents in the past.

He received two games earlier this season for elbowing Montreal's Maxim Lapierre. Last season, he was the recipient of New York Islander Chris Simon's infamous stomp to the skate while a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Simon, who had been suspended several times in the past, received a 30-game ban.

In his first season with Ottawa, Ruutu has quickly worked to irritate division rival Buffalo. Adam Mair of the Sabres, for example, tried to go after Ruutu in the hall to Ottawa's dressing room after a game in October.

The biting truth

Ruutu isn't the first NHLer to be accused of sinking his teeth into an opponent.

Marc Savard, while with Atlanta, was suspended one game for biting the glove of Darcy Tucker, then playing with Toronto, in 2003.

In 2004, Columbus forward Tyler Wright accused Nashville's Jordin Tootoo of biting him on the finger during a fight, while Travis Zajac of the New Jersey Devils made the same claim last season of Philadelphia defenceman Derian Hatcher.

Name the sport and there's at least one recent incident.

Jerry Stackhouse of the Dallas Mavericks accused Robert Horry of biting his arm during a melee in 2006. The NBA suspended the San Antonio Spurs reserve two games for his role in the scrum, but never officially confirmed Stackhouse's account. Horry denied the claim.

That same year in Premier League soccer, Tottenham player Jermain Defoe was accused of the same against West Ham's Javier Mascherano.

Biting claims have also been alleged at the bottom of NFL piles. The most refreshingly honest was colourful St. Louis offensive lineman Conrad Dobler, who admitted to getting Minnesota Viking Doug Sutherland's finger with a well-placed bite in a 1970s game.

The most infamous bite, of course, was Mike Tyson, without his mouthpiece, taking off a piece of Evander Holyfield's ear during their 1997 heavyweight rematch. Holyfield was willing to continue but Tyson was disqualified.

Holyfield had his ear repaired and while attending a boxing session at the Beijing Olympics last August, watched as Dzhakhon Kurbanov of Tajikistan was disqualified for biting Kazakhstan's Yerkebulan Shynaliyev.

With files from the Associated Press

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