Penguins Notebook: Ruutu looks ahead, not back

Remains silent after Simon gets 30-game suspension from NHL

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BOSTON -- Jarkko Ruutu of the Penguins still is not inclined to talk much about New York Islanders winger Chris Simon intentionally stepping on his foot in the Penguins' 3-2 victory at Nassau Coliseum Saturday night.

But NHL vice president Colin Campbell, who handles supplemental discipline for the league, had plenty to say about the incident yesterday, issuing Simon a 30-game suspension that is the longest fixed-term penalty in NHL history.

"The deliberate act of kicking an opponent with an exposed skate blade, especially where the opponent is in a vulnerable position, is and always has been a repugnant and totally unacceptable act in the game of hockey," Campbell said.

"In addition, while the act itself was extremely dangerous, the fact that this is the eighth incident requiring the imposition of supplementary discipline on Simon compelled me to impose a very severe penalty in this case."

Ruutu, who learned of the suspension after the Penguins' practice at Boston University's Agganis Arena, had a predictably tepid reaction.

"To be honest, I really don't have anything to say about the whole incident," he said. "Just kind of move on, play the game. That's the way I approach things. What happened in the past, happened. Just look ahead."

Simon, who had worked out a leave from the Islanders several days before Campbell's ruling came down, is eligible to resume playing Feb. 21.

Lost opportunity

One of the most intriguing facets of the Penguins' next game against Philadelphia, set for Jan. 24 at the Wachovia Center, disappeared Tuesday evening, when the Flyers traded winger Ben Eager to Chicago for defenseman Jim Vandermeer.

Eager, a player who generally is easy to overlook, grabbed attention in the Flyers' 8-2 victory against the Penguins last Tuesday when he hit Penguins enforcer Georges Laraque with a flying elbow in the third period, then was pummeled by left winger Gary Roberts in a fight a few seconds later.

He picked up a little more after the game, when he was lurking near the Penguins' locker room and, after coach Michel Therrien's postgame session with reporters, loudly informed Therrien that he is "an idiot."

"I really wanted him and, on the 24th, I would have done everything to embarrass him, especially with what he did with the coach," Laraque said.

"We were all [angry] at him. Now that he's gone, I'm sure all the fans are disappointed, because he was the main focus and everything he did, we wanted to respond to it.

"Now, we still want to win, but it's different. They got rid of the main attraction."

Malone out indefinitely

Left winger Ryan Malone, who sat out the Penguins' 4-0 loss in New York Tuesday because of flu-like symptoms, was diagnosed with an infected cut in his leg and sent home.

He will not play tonight, and there is no indication when he will return. He is expected to miss at least the Penguins' home game against the Islanders at 7:38 p.m. tomorrow at Mellon Arena.

The Penguins also have returned forward Connor James, recalled from their minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre Saturday, to the Baby Penguins and promoted forward Jeff Taffe. He is 6 feet 3, 215 pounds and has 12 goals and nine assists in 27 games this season.



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