Ruutu begins drive to Stanley Cup

DON BRENNAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:17 AM ET

Jarkko Ruutu hopes he was handed the keys to success Thursday.

Before helping kick off the season by driving a Zamboni along the Elgin St. Sens Mile, the Senators winger reminded reporters that fellow Finn Antti Niemi used to steer one of the ice-resurfacing machines as a part-time job in his homeland only a couple of years ago.

In a rags-to-riches story last spring, Niemi capped off his rookie season by goaltending the Chicago Blackhawks to a championship.

“I hope it will affect me the same way as it did Antti Niemi,” Ruutu said before heading to a City Hall ceremony. “He used to be a Zamboni driver and won the Cup last year.

“This is kind of a step towards that.”

For the same magic to strike twice, Ruutu was told, he’d have to don goalie pads. 

“I wouldn’t be opposed to that,” said Ruutu. “If that’s the case, I’m in. I’ll do anything. I’ll fill the water bottles if that’s the case.”

Ruutu, who blocked 45 shots last season, said he has played goal in the past. But only in practices, for fun.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” he said. “You have to be flexible, too.”

Ruutu actually prefers earning a living as a gritty, pain-in-the-butt forward. Goalies can too easily go from hero to bum, he pointed out.

Those who refer to Ottawa as a “goalie graveyard” know what Ruutu means.

No turns, please

Ruutu got his Zamboni licence Wednesday, when he went for a test drive in the Scotiabank Place lot.

“I got the stamp right away,” he said. “It wasn’t that hard.”

Asked if anyone along Sens Mile would be in danger, he replied: “Hopefully I don’t have to turn.”

Having Ruutu take the drive was a solid idea by the club’s marketing department.

“They asked me a couple of days ago and I said, ‘Why not,’ ” said Ruutu. “I’m always up for new experiences.”

Even strapping on the goalie pads, if it would somehow lead the drive to the Stanley Cup.


Videos

Photos