Senators Jarrko Ruutu waves to fans after recieving a game misconduct for elbowing Canadiens Maxime Lapierre last November. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Turns out the NHL has a bigger bite than Ottawa's Jarkko Ruutu.
And that was fine with Andrew Peters on Wednesday evening after the Buffalo Sabres enforcer learned the league had suspended Ruutu two games without pay for biting Peters' gloved hand in a game on 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. "That's all I could ask for. It's a good result at the end of the day. It's a fair penalty."
To Peters, taking a punch in a hockey game is one thing, but being bitten during a skirmish breaks what's known as the tough-guy code in the NHL.
"It goes too far for any player. It doesn't matter who you are, it's not part of hockey," he said. "I just hope kids don't think that's acceptable. It's not acceptable at any level."
Ruutu was not immediately available for comment as he with the Senators preparing for their game at Boston on Thursday. He will lose US$37,707 in pay.
Aside from missing the game against the Bruins, he'll also miss a home game against the New York Rangers on Saturday. Ruutu is eligible to return Jan. 13 when the Senators host Carolina.
The NHL acted swiftly after what happened in the first period of Buffalo's 4-2 home win. Peters started the skirmish by shoving the palm of his glove into Ruutu's face and pushing him into the boards at the Senators' bench.
Ruutu responded by chomping down on Peters' glove, catching his teeth on the player's thumb, which is not padded. The force of Ruutu's bite broke the skin and drew blood on the Peters' right thumb. As Peters pulled away in pain, his glove was ripped off by Ruutu's bite.
Peters was penalized for sparking the skirmish. Ruutu was not penalized.
Following the game, Ruutu denied he bit Peters despite conclusive replays showing he had, and the skirmish becoming an instant YouTube hit and was shown on numerous international sports broadcasts.
Peters was still taken aback by what happened.
"It's not really the thumb that's the issue, it's the incident that took place," Peters said before the suspension was announced. "It's weird to even think that that goes on in hockey. Even in my role, I would never think of doing something like that."
Peters shrugged his shoulders when informed of Ruutu's denial.
"I don't think if I did something that stupid I'd really be admitting to it either," he said.
The injury was minor, and nothing like one of sports' most infamous bites when boxer Mike Tyson took a chunk of Evander Holyfield's ear during a bout in 1997.
Biting is rare in hockey, but it does happen.
Current Bruins star Marc Savard was suspended for one game in 2003 when, playing for Atlanta, he bit Darcy Tucker on the glove in a game against Toronto.
Last January, New Jersey's Travis Zajac required stitches on his finger after being bitten by Philadelphia defenceman Derian Hatcher.
Hatcher was not disciplined by the league.
Sabres coach Ruff said biting goes back to when he played in the NHL in the 1980s.
"I witnessed a few. I saw one teammate get bit right on the back," he said.
Ruff said he nor the team was going to overreact to what happened.
"I find it a little humorous to tell you the truth," Ruff said. "It makes it something good to talk about. Games need a little spice and we get a little spice."