Killer sounds off on CHL's rule changes

CHRIS STEVENSON -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

So much for a nice quiet first day at 67's training camp.

So much for 67's coach and GM Brian Kilrea easing into this, his 30th year behind the 67's bench.

Kilrea was in vintage form yesterday as he levelled a couple of classic Killer rants in the direction of some favourite targets of his, the suits at Hockey Canada, and the new rules being imposed on the Canadian Hockey League.

Kilrea is no fan of getting rid of the red line, stopping coaches from changing lines after icing the puck or of the restrictions being placed on the CHL when it comes to the number of midget, European and American players allowed on its rosters.

Kilrea is particularly miffed that Hockey Canada is limiting junior teams to two midgets starting next year (and they have to be taken in the first two rounds of the draft).

Instead of keeping them in midget and strengthening midget hockey, Kilrea thinks the quota will have disastrous effects for Canadian hockey.

"I think a lot of them at 16, if they can't make a major-junior team because they're a third-round pick, their option will be, 'maybe I can go to the U.S. and play in one of their leagues because it's going to be a better league,' " said Kilrea.

"So here we are trying to strengthen a midget league and losing our best players to our competition."

Kilrea pointed to a player like the 67's Jamie McGinn, an underager who started on the fourth line last year and wound up playing on the first line at the Memorial Cup.

Under next year's rules, McGinn wouldn't have had a chance to make the team.

"He winds up playing on the first line and then represents Canada in the under-17, which they won," said Kilrea. "Why are we tinkering with our game? We keep winning the gold. I always thought you only tinkered if you weren't having success."

Kilrea also leveled a blast at the rule changes brought in at the NHL level for this season and adopted by the CHL.

No red line doesn't necessarily mean better hockey, said Kilrea.

"Anybody who has watched the European game will find they play less forechecking and more five guys back at their own blue line," he said. "I don't believe it's going to take the trap out of the game, if that's their intention. They'll just do it closer to their own blue line."

Kilrea said he thinks the rule not allowing coaches of a team that has iced the puck to change lines is also poorly considered.

It will take away the home-ice advantage at times, discourage the use of young, developing players who are usually on the fourth line and could pose an injury risk.

"Some coaches are only going to put their fourth line on the ice when the faceoff is at the other end," said Kilrea. "They won't allow their fourth line to take a faceoff in their own end.

"You usually have your 16-year-olds on your fourth line. What happens if they're out there for 40 or 50 seconds and they ice it because they're tired? They can't change. Are we risking injury leaving them on the ice? How's that good for our game? It's a risk thing."

Kilrea, never a fan of the Hockey Canada establishment, wants to know just who is making these decisions.

"A lot of moves are made and you wonder who did it. What individual suggested it? Let us know. Which of the men in power voted for it? Let us know instead of keeping us in the dark. I don't want to be a mushroom in the corner anymore ... a big mushroom.

"This same body telling us we can only have one European. How does that strengthen us? That same body is telling we can only have two Americans. We finally made inroads into the States where the players recognize the best place to play is Canadian major junior. Now we're saying there's too many of you coming over here so we're going to restrict it. A limit on Europeans, a limit on Americans and that same body is telling us we can't have our best players, they have to play midget. How is that helping major junior? If someone wants to sit down and explain how it makes us better, I'll listen. Who brought it forth to make it a reality?"

"They've got nothing but time on their hands. They're all retired. They're asking, 'What can we do to leave a legacy?' Let us know who's leaving the legacy and driving kids out of junior hockey."


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