There’s no doubting who the most recognizable Nashville Predator is. Although Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Mike Fisher and Pekka Rinne are pretty familiar faces, there’s one player that everyone – even someone who’s never seen the Predators play – recognizes instantly: Jordin Tootoo.
Maybe it’s because he’s Nashville’s go-to fighter. Or, maybe, it’s because his last name is the same as his number (easiest player to remember). Either way, Jordin Tootoo is as popular as the day he joined the team back in the 2003-04 season. From the get-go, Toots was a born fighter, trying to make a name for himself in the league the best way he knew how. As the first Inuit hockey player to be drafted into the National Hockey League, Jordin Tootoo needed to be memorable. Oh, how far he’s come in these last eight years.
We won’t delve into Tootoo’s past (you have the ‘Tootoo on 2’ segments for that), but if you aren’t aware, Nashville’s Right Wing as fought a few demons in his young life, including alcohol abuse and his overall appearance and demeanor to the rest of the hockey world. Although loved and admired in Nashville as a strong community leader, the rest of the hockey world still see him as an inconsiderate punk of a player, not fit for society.
Despite these trials and tribulations, Jordin Tootoo’s passion for the game has never faltered, always keeping his game a top priority. After taking a step back to reflect and making the decision for rehab last season, Jordin Tootoo has not only improved mentally, but physically as well. He quickly surpassed his career-highs early in the season with 29 points and 23 assists this season. With so much tenacity and velocity, where did his passion suddenly fizzle out?
Jordin Tootoo’s last goal with the Predators was on December 28th at home against the Minnesota Wild, where the Predators won 2-1 in a shootout. Toots has accumulated many assists since then, with his last recorded assist on February 28th against the Carolina Hurricanes in Raleigh. Since then, Jordin has seemed to be on the iffy side, making horrible passing mistakes and tacking up foolish penalties along the way.
Even though he one of the faces of the Nashville Predators, that one factor won’t save you from the bench and Jordin Tootoo found himself scratched last Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets, his first healthy scratch since, well, we can’t even give you an exact date. With younger guys such as Gabriel Bourque and Ryan Ellis playing with level heads and making cleaner, more accurate plays, Tootoo’s inconsistency had no room for ice time. That, and the recent return of Russian phenom, Alexander Radulov meant someone would be taking a seat in the press box.
Although he was back on the ice the next night against the Chicago Blackhawks, it was clear his frustration got the best of him, taking on the 6’2″ Left Wing, Brandon Bollig. Before the game, Tootoo had expressed his frustration of being scratched to the local news media, but due to his unfortunate loss to the Blackhawk, Toots will now find himself on the scratched list even more. During the fight, Bollig clocked Tootoo in the ear, causing it to bleed. Although we do not know the details of his injury, it was announced that he has an upper-body injury due to the punching match.
Since late January, Jordin Tootoo has been slowly losing steam, and last night’s fight looked as if he were merely trying to show off, not necessarily fight Bollig for a particular reason. There usually always an explaination for Tootoo’s fights, like this one, for example:
Toots took on Mark Fistric on January 5th in Dallas, their first meeting since Fistric put Shea Weber on the IR list with a concussion.
Whether it be an issue involving his personal life, or simply a fluke in his game, Jordin Tootoo has been suffering as of late, and both fans and opposing teams are starting to take notice. Depending on the severity of his upper-body injury, Jordin Tootoo could either spend the remainder of this regular season on the scratched list, or he could end up playing tomorrow against St. Louis.
We love Jordin Tootoo just as much as the next Predators fan, but it was about time someone brought to light the subject that everyone has been whispering about. Rumors of what has slowed Tootoo down have been circulating amongst the fans and others, but until the truth is presented directly from Jordin’s mouth, we won’t go into details of what those rumors were.
We don’t have any doubt Toots will rejoin the Predators organization next season, but hopefully the remainder of the regular season and playoff series will bring back the all-familiar Jordin Tootoo we all have come to love.
(Photo credit of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)