Rules, player movement building excitement

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:26 PM ET

We're still several weeks from getting our first glimpse of the NHL's rule changes, but that didn't stop a couple of our local NHLers from weighing in on the topic yesterday.

Winnipeg's Mike Keane and J. P. Vigier of Notre Dame de Lourdes give the much ballyhooed on-ice changes mixed reviews.

Vigier, a 28-year-old forward getting ready for the Atlanta Thrashers training camp, predicts allowing two-line passes will be the most influential of the new rules.

"I think it's going to stretch things out a little bit," Vigier said. "Guys are going to try to stretch the zone a little bit earlier. You can make a longer pass now, and it may lead to a little bit more offence. But it's hard to say. How are teams going to counteract that defensively, I don't know."

Keane, a 38-year-old free agent who last played in Vancouver, calls the changes contradictory.

"If you take out the hooking, holding and grabbing like they said they would, you don't have to change the rules," Keane said. "If Mike Modano picks up the puck behind the net and no one's going to hook him or hold him, who cares if there's a red-line or not?"

You might be surprised to hear Keane, a 16-year veteran and three-time Stanley Cup winner, is not a traditionalist when it comes to the overtime shootout.

"I love the shootout," Keane said. "I watched the Moose games all year, and it's exciting. That's what people want."

Excitement is what most players are feeling, now that the lockout is over.

Vigier says all the player movement, including the Thrashers swap of star Dany Heatley for Marian Hossa of Ottawa this week, has players talking.

"You want to see what everyone's got, how everyone's going to be," Vigier said. "But ... you've got to get to camp and make the team."


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