The Ruut-u of all evil

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

Jarkko Ruutu's opponents love to hate him.

In a poll of 324 players released in this week's issue of Sports Illustrated, the Senators' pesky winger finished third in voting behind Anaheim's Chris Pronger and Dallas forward Steve Ott when NHLers were asked: "Who is the dirtiest player in the league?"

It's no surprise that Pronger is at the top of the list with 13% of the votes from players because as the poll notes he "has been suspended by the league eight times for questionable hits or other on-ice infractions, twice during the 2007 playoffs."

Senators fans know how dirty Pronger can be. He was given a one-game suspension in the 2007 Stanley Cup final for elbowing forward Dean McAmmond in the head. Pronger was also suspended earlier that spring for a hit on Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom.

While Pronger has been on good behaviour lately, he was suspended for eight games in March, 2008 for stomping on the leg of Vancouver's Ryan Kesler.

Ott also received 13% of the vote. With 35 minor penalties in 64 games, Ott had the highest ratio of penalties among those who played at least 50 games last season. He drew a one-game ban March 1 for gouging the eye of Anaheim's Travis Moen.

Ruutu, who has a tremendous ability to goad his opponents into penalties and was suspended twice during the regular season, received 12% support from his peers. He has often said that he likes to get under the skin of his foes, but has to watch crossing the line.

Not only did Ruutu get the book thrown at him for elbowing Montreal's Maxim Lapierre in the head in November, he also had his infamous biting incident with Buffalo's Andrew Peters in January at the HSBC Arena. Each incident earned Ruutu a two-game ban. According to SI, that got Ruutu plenty of votes.

"That's the way some of these guys have to play to stay in the league. I'm sure in Ruutu's case, biting Peters' thumb had a lot to do with where he stood," said Sportsnet analyst Nick Kypreos, a former NHL heavyweight. "These guys have to play with an edge or they're not effective. You've got be dirty to be effective. They'll do whatever it takes to win and sometimes they cross the line."

Surprisingly, Rangers bad boy Sean Avery finished fourth with only 10% of the vote. Last season, Avery was the hands-down winner at 24%, but he might have been suspended or playing in the AHL when the poll was conducted.

"This poll had to be taken while Avery was in the minors. If he was playing in the league, he would have been at the top of the list because he would have been on everybody's minds," said Kypreos.

A distant fifth was Flyers winger Scott Hartnell, who received 5% of the vote.


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