Where has Jordin Tootoo’s Passion Gone?

Tootoo salutes the Nashville crowd after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks.

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.

Until then,

(Photo credit of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Predators smash Blackhawks 6-1

Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, and Sergei Kostitsyn celebrate with Mike Fisher.

The Predators ended last night’s game with a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets, but they had no time to celebrate. When most teams have a hard time playing two nights in a row, Nashville came out in Chicago looking like a brand new team, refreshed and hungry for a win.

The Blackhawks are currently sitting behind Nashville in both the conference and division, only behind by two points. While the Predators have been struggling the last few games, Chicago has been shinning, winning the last five of their games. Sitting that close to pushing forward in both the conference and division, the Blackhawks needed to extend their winning streak to six.

However, the Blackhawks have certainly struggled against the Predators all season, with the Blackhawks only beating the Predators 5-4 on October 31st in OT. Also, with Jonathan Toews out with an injury and Duncan Keith out for a five-game suspension (due to elbowing Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin intentionally in the face, ending his season), the Blackhawks would have to put forth a good effort tonight against the Nashville Predators. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game in the Windy City:

  • Jordin Tootoo returned to the lineup after being scratched last night against the Winnipeg Jets in Nashville, but Colin Wilson and Roman Josi are still suffering from their injuries. Also suffering from an unexpected injury is Martin Erat, who made the trip with the team to Chicago, but is said to be suffering from an upper-body injury. Andrei Kostitsyn replaced Marty in the all-powerful SK74-Fisher-Erat line. Adding to the scratched list was Craig Smith, Jack Hillen, and Brian McGrattan.
  • Both teams put the pressure on early, but it was Nashville’s defense that stole the show. Pekka Rinne was up to his old tricks, making some key saves early on in the game. Chicago took to shooting early, taking eleven shots in the first period alone.
  • Jordin Tootoo had his butt handed to him at 4:56 in the first period after dropping the gloves with Bradon Bollig. Instead of hitting the penalty box for five minutes, Toots headed straight for the locker room. It was clear Jordin’s ear was bleeding, but reports claim he has suffered from an upper-body injury due to the fight. When he did not return to the game, it was clear that he indeed was injured more than just a cut on the ear. He is iffy for Tuesday’s game in St. Louis. Here is the video of the beat down on Toots:
  • Matt Halischuk redeemed Nashville after Tootoo’s beat down at 6:16 with a wrist shot past Corey Crawford for his 14th goal of the season. Brandon Yip (3rd assist) and Paul Gaustad (14th assist) picked up the assists on Halischuk’s goal.
  • Nashville would continue to dominate the 1st Period with a wrist shot from Andrei Kostitsyn at 15:28. David Legwand (31st assist) and Patric Hornqvist (15th assist) picked up the assists from Andrei’s 16th goal of the season.
  • The only goal in the 2nd Period would come from reining goal scorer, Patric Hornqvist at 5:42 on the power play. First awarded to Alexander Radulov, Hornqvist would enviably be given credit for the goal, his 25th of the season. Radulov (2nd assist) and Shea Weber (30th assist) would be given the assists.
  • Continuing to keep the ball rolling, Francis Bouillon would sink his 2nd goal of the season just two minutes into the 3rd Period. Rookie Ryan Ellis (8th assist) and Matt Halischuk (12th assist) would grab the assists early in the 3rd Period.
  • Viktor Stalberg would finally give the Blackhawks breathing room at 5:58, his 19th goal of the season.
  • Shea Weber would quiet the Chicago crowd at 6:34 with an amazing slap shot past Ray Emery, sealing his 16th goal of the season. Cleanly winning the puck at the face-off, Mike Fisher picked up the assist (25th) for Weber’s goal.
  • After grabbing the assist, Mike Fisher would seal his own goal of the night at 17:33 with a snap shot past Ray Emery for his 24th goal of the season. Gabriel Bourque (11th assist) and Pekka Rinne (4th assist) picked up the assists.
  • Chicago only out-shot the Predators 25 to 24, but it was clear who had the better accuracy with the shots and who was the better goal tender (or, for Chicago, goal tenders). The Predators gave the Blackhawks five power play chances, yet the defense and Pekka Rinne were able to keep Chicago at bay. Chicago only gave Nashville three power play chances, but Nashville was able to capitalize Sean O’Donnell’s hi-sticking penalty. Here are the five penalty box sitters for the Predators:
  1.  Jordin Tootoo – 4:56 1st Period – Fighting
  2. Sergei Kostitsyn – 10:36 1st Period – Tripping
  3. Brandon Yip – 16:32 1st Period – Boarding
  4. Shea Weber – 13:34 2nd Period – Interference
  5. Patric Hornqvist – 3:57 3rd Period – Slashing

The team that showed up in Chicago tonight is clearly a team that contend for the Stanley Cup. What changed them from the team from last week? Well, there’s no telling, but the momentum that the Predators conveyed tonight should be in hand during the playoffs and the remainder for the regular season.

The Predators will travel south of Chicago to St. Louis to face the Blues on Tuesday, the puck dropping at 7PM. If the Predators can take on the Blues as they did tonight against Chicago, Nashville could push themselves further in the rankings. After tonight’s win, however, they did surpass the Detroit Red Wings once again for 4th in the conference.

Until then,

(Photo credit: Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)