SUN Hockey Pool

NHL needs to stick to it

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:01 AM ET

So, the NHL is tinkering with the idea of using bigger nets to open up the game.

At league meetings in Detroit next month, they'll table a couple of proposals, including one in which the side frame of the nets will be rounded out.

In other words, it'll look like goalies are standing inside a set of parentheses.

What a load of (#$%@!).

Why is it the average hockey fan knows exactly what the game needs to get it out of the yawn-and-click era, but the deep-thinkers who actually run the league have less of a clue than Paris Hilton?

You don't need curved nets, curved or extra-wide blue lines -- or orange lines, for that matter -- to make the game more attractive when simple enforcement of the rule book will do just fine.

I've said it before and I'll say it until I'm blue (not orange!) in the face: If a player doesn't have the puck, you don't touch him with your stick. Think receiver/cornerback in football.

When a defenceman is trying to impede the progress of a forechecker, he shouldn't be allowed to extend his stick or arms. Think offensive lineman blocking a defensive end. It's all about positioning.

As for the puck carrier, disallow any stick contact that impedes his progress. Taps are OK, hooks and holds are out.

For good measure, get rid of the centre red-line for two-line passes and bring the long bomb into the game.

It wouldn't hurt to take goalie equipment back to the 1980s (for size, not quality), either, or to cut back to, say, 70 games.

Make those changes, and whenever the NHL does return, the average game would feature more red lights than downtown Amsterdam.

NFL'S TURN? Could we be witnessing the opening of a crack in the NFL's drug policy?

While baseball has been taking all the heat until now, there's been precious little criticism aimed at U.S. pro football and its attempts to curb steroid use.

But a report by CBS's Sixty Minutes indicates three members of the Carolina Panthers regularly filled prescriptions for testosterone cream in 2004.

The report says one of the players, punter Todd Sauerbrun, also picked up syringes and the steroid stanozolol, the drug that ruined Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson.

And, apparently, none of the players were caught by the NFL's testing program.

Maybe the NFL's drug policy isn't all it's been cracked up to be.

HOME, SWEET HOME: Things have sure worked out well for former Blue Bomber Juran Bolden.

The CFL's top defensive back in 2001, Bolden, who played for Jacksonville last season, has hooked up with the NFL's Tampa Bay Bucs, where he's expected to serve as the Bucs' nickel back in passing situations, the next-best thing to being a starter.

Not only that, he'll be living with his family at his Tampa-area home, in this, his seventh year in The League.

Good on him.

NOT IN THEIR LEAGUE: Sure, the Canadian national women's team is trying to match the record of nine straight world hockey championships won by the former Soviet men's team.

But can you really compare the two?

The Soviets had to contend with the Czechs, Swedes, Finns and Canadians, while the women's worlds are a two-horse race between the Canucks and Yanks every year.

Apples and oranges, wouldn't you say?

THEY'RE HOW MUCH? Not sure what the CFL is thinking, setting ticket prices of $42 and $62.50 for an exhibition game between the Toronto Argos and Hamilton Ticats in Halifax this spring.

The rest of the country doesn't pay that much for regular-season football.

Tom Wright, the confused commish, predicts a sellout crowd of 10,000 anyway.

We can only hope he has a better grasp of the CFL appetite in Atlantic Canada than he has of the league's salary cap.


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