Tinkering with the rules

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

The reason that a team can't change personnel if it ices the puck is that the National Hockey League wants to discourage icing. So if a team ices the puck to ease pressure when one of its players is without a stick, why not keep that premise in mind?

If one of your players is without a stick when you ice the puck, then one of your players should be without a stick on the ensuing face-off.

It doesn't have to be the same player because it's routine for a forward to give his stick to a defenceman under such circumstances. But why should a team be rewarded -- or allowed to escape a dangerous situation -- when it commits an infraction?

And still on the subject of rule tinkering, there are some misconceptions regarding the curve on a player's stick.

The allowable curve was increased this season and there are many who feel, with considerable justification, that any curve should be allowed because it becomes self-restricting.

But the reason the league doesn't allow a greater curve is that the puck will respond in an unpredictable fashion and while that's not a bad concept for fans who want to see more scoring, it could be a bad concept for defencemen standing in front of the net.

In fact, it could be very dangerous. Today's shots are rockets and a serious injury could result if a player were to be hit in the face with one. That's why stick curves are kept within certain parameters.

BURKE SPOUTS OFF

You always know the NHL is on shaky ground when Brian Burke is sent out to attract the media's attention.

On Tuesday, after the governors couldn't find a way to improve the schedule even though 19 of the 30 agreed they didn't like the present one, out popped Burke, the general manager of the Anaheim Ducks.

With his usual bombast, Burke offered his usual disdain for progress and said that the furor, "seems to have reached a crescendo in the last year because of two young players."

Burke apparently thinks that the fuss has arisen simply because of the emergence of Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby. He writes off Evgeni Malkin, who happens to lead Ovechkin in the all-star voting, and doesn't bother to consider that in the near future, fans might want to see the likes of John Tavares or Angelo Esposito more than once every three years.

And he gives no consideration whatsoever to all the veteran stars who are in the "other" conference?

Furthermore, the crescendo came about in large part because fans are sick of seeing the same four teams eight times a season.

"I'm not going to vote to change the schedule dramatically because we have two good players," huffed Burke. "They could get traded tomorrow. Then what do you do? It's got to have more sense to it than that."

Speaking of sense, how sensible is it to suggest that either Crosby or Ovechkin will get traded tomorrow?

But even if they did, how would that change the situation? They're still going to be in the NHL, aren't they? And if they're somewhere in the NHL, then under the present schedule, they're going to visit the other conference once every three years."

FOUR SCORE AND 12 WINS

What was the significance of the Maple Leafs' 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers away back on Oct. 9? Yes, it was a win, something that at the moment seems like a distant memory.

But in fact, the Maple Leafs have won 13 games this season.

That game against Florida, however, marked the only win in which the Leafs didn't score four goals or more.

In today's tight game, if you win only when you score four, you're not going to have a very productive season.


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