Signing Ruutu

By Bill Placzek

Tuomo Ruutu was here visiting the USA but not for pleasure, it was strictly business.

Hockey business.

During the week of August 3rd through the 10th he played on the Finnish entry of the 2002 Hockey Summer Challenge (U20) in Lake Placid. Three teams participated, a USA White team, a USA Blue team and the veteran Finnish team.

The 2002 USA Hockey Summer Challenge is the tourney that marks the culmination of the U.S. National Evaluation camp that brought 45 American hockey players together to show their abilities and audition for spots on 2003 U.S.National team.

The tourney seats were loaded with scouts from every NHL team.

What they witnessed was Ruutu, bullying his way through the opposition, controling play, leading the offense and disrupting the offensive plays of the other team. Nasty aggressive hockey bullying is no new style for Ruutu, whose heart is similar to the players we all make our fan favorites because of the way they juice up the games.

In the Ides of July, Blackhawk G.M. Mike Smith tried to negotiate a North American contract, but Tuomo Ruutu’s agent asked for a signing bonus besides the highest salary attainable under the NHL rookies salary cap.
This bonus became the bone of contention that to this day, are separating the two sides. Smith flat out says he doesn’t do that! Never has,never will. And Ruutu’s agent started his asking for a $3 Million signing bonus based on individual performance.

Based on his performance in this tourney and his previous performances, there wasn’t a NHL G.M. who wouldn’t add a $1 Million bonus to get his name on a contract to hurry his addition to the training camp roster.

He may be able to hone his skills in the Finnish major league, but this kid is ready now to make the jump. Every NHL team took notice of him, and will be scratching heads if the Hawks aren’t willing to be a little amicable to getting his name on a contract.