Over in Western Pennsylvania, Pens fans are still bemoaning the loss of Jarkko Ruutu to the Senators (along with players like Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque to the Tampa "Cowboys" and the Habs) but the folks over at the highly recommended blog Confluence of Three Rivers are trying to soothe the nerves of fans by extolling the virtues of replacement pest Matt Cooke, who like Ruutu, comes to the Penguins by way of Vancouver (and briefly the Caps).
One of the moments I'm really looking forward to this season is the first matchup between the Senators and Penguins, where Cooke and Ruutu will certainly be at their shit-eating grin best.
"Ruutu quickly became a fan favorite in Pittsburgh. The chants of “Ruuuuuuuuuuuu” boomed throughout the Igloo over the last couple of seasons. He plays the agitator role better than nearly any of his peers in the NHL, being a major pest all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. But for as well as Ruutu performed in his agitator, he did not contribute very much in the category of secondary scoring. In Ruutu’s two seasons with the Pens, he scored seven and six goals, respectively.
Moreover, Ruutu has only scored in double digits once is his NHL career. Cooke, on the other hand, has scored in double digits in both goals and assists every year in each of his last seven NHL seasons. In addition, while Cooke may not have been as well known as agitators such as Ruutu or Sean Avery, he is well qualified to be given that moniker."
- The Confluence Of Three Rivers
Now that the Sens and Pens have played each other two years in a row during the playoffs (splitting the results), they are in the midst of a pretty good rivalry and that can only be good news for fans in the capital region. While it's no Edmonton-Calgary rivalry from the 80's, it's always better to be involved in a hate-fest with an interesting team, and the Penguins boast two of the three best players in the world right now (Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin).
That's a touch more invigorating than having a rivalry with, say, the Buffalo Sabres or the Florida Panthers.
Here's the million dollar question: Will Ruutu take a run at Crosby when the opportunity provides itself?
This will probably answer your question...
After the rookies are done scuffling around in Kitchener-Waterloo this weekend, the real Senators training camp basically gets underway on Monday, when the team holds its annual Charity golf tournament and then reports for physicals on Tuesday, about a week earlier than 26 other NHL teams who will start up later on in the week or the following Monday. The Senators, Penguins, Lightning and the Rangers are starting early so they can open the season in Europe.
The full training camp sked can be viewed here.