John "Jack" Ruttan was an amateur hockeyist through and through and never considered turning professional. His playing career began with the Armstrong's Point hockey team that won the juvenile championship of Winnipeg in the 1905-06 season. He switched to the Rustler club the following season and it in turn also won the city juvenile championship. By 1907-08, Ruttan was playing for the St. John's College team, which won the Manitoba University Hockey League championship that season.
He moved up to senior hockey in 1909 and played for the Manitoba Varsity hockey team as they won the championship of the Winnipeg Senior Hockey League in the 1909-10 season. Ruttan stayed with the Varsity team through two more seasons before moving on to play for the Winnipeg Hockey Club in 1912-13.
The "Winnipegers" won everything in sight that season, starting with the Winnipeg League championship and culminating with the Allan Cup as senior hockey champions of Canada. Ruttan recalled later that the Allan Cup win, emblematic of amateur hockey supremacy, was the greatest thrill of his hockey career.
He remained in hockey for many years after his playing days had ended. He coached the Winnipeg senior hockey team during the 1919-20 season and officiated in the Winnipeg Senior League from 1920 through 1922, and then coached the University of Manitoba team for a year in 1923-24.
Jack Ruttan was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.