SUN Hockey Pool

Old Yelle learning new tricks

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

Stephane Yelle would love to compare the differences to the last time he'd played on the wing with regularity.

There is only one problem.

"Oh boy, I don't even remember," said the veteran Calgary Flame. "I know I played it back then, but to talk about differences, I couldn't."

At least Yelle is proving you can teach old dogs new tricks.

Or at least the same old tricks again.

Over the past couple of weeks, the 33-year-old has often been seen skating on the left wing on a line with Matthew Lombardi and Dustin Boyd.

He'll bounce back to centre when necessary, especially on the penalty kill, but seems to be spending as much time if not more on the left wing.

"It's a little different. I played a little bit of wing early in my first year, first couple of years, but not very much," said the 12th-year NHLer. "I'm trying to watch all the other wingers when I'm off the ice to see how they do things and try to improve on that."

It wouldn't seem to be that much of a difference, and the NHL is filled with players who bounce between centre and wing.

However, not many who've spent a decade in the league specializing as a centre, where the game is played more in motion.

"That's one big difference. A lot of times you're standing still at the point or you're guarding your side of the ice. That's one thing I have to adjust to," Yelle said. "Another is playing along the boards, especially with their defence pinching. I think that's the most difficult part of playing wing, trying to manage that. The breakout pass, the rims, around the boards, getting the puck to the centre ... I have to get better at it."

The decision to try Yelle on the wing came in the middle of a game when head coach Mike Keenan felt he wasn't getting enough accomplished in that role. Necessity being the mother of invention, he decided to try the old pro at a new gig.

"He's a smart player," Keenan explained. "He's done well because of it."


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