It's too bad Brendan Shanahan, the NHL's boss of player safety, doesn't have a party line on his office telephone.
Everyone wants to hear what will happen a little later Monday afternoon when Shanahan holds a telephone hearing with Nashville Predators forward Jordan Tootoo. He enraged the Buffalo Sabres when he crashed into goaltender Ryan Miller during a game Saturday and set off a melee.
Since Miller was freshly back in the lineup from a concussion thanks to the infamous Milan Lucic hit, the Sabres, including Miller, were quick to swarm Tootoo after he flattened the goaltender. Miller was not hurt but the Sabres are looking for Shanahan to come down hard on Tootoo.
Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, whose sense of outrage toward the league is never far from the surface thanks to the 1999 Brett Hull toe-in-the-crease Stanley Cup winning goal, says goaltenders are still targets despite Shanahan's vow to crack down on such hits. The fact that Tootoo received a major penalty and a game misconduct did not appease the coach, since the net result of the scrum was a one-minute power-play for the Sabres.
"What happened in the game was a joke," Ruff, who was still angry a day later, said. "All it does is prove the fact when I said it was open season. It appears it is open season.
"You have a guy coming off a concussion and you've got Jordin Tootoo running over your goaltender. We used to get a two-minute power play. We got a one-minute power play. That's a joke. I want to see what the league wants to do with this one."
However, Tootoo should be looking at a multi-game suspension if Shanahan decides the collision could have been avoided. He is a repeat offender because he has a five-game suspension on his rap sheet for punching Stephane Robidas in March, 2007.