Helmet debate heats up

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

LOS ANGELES - Calgary Flames president Ken King says whether or not the club’s players wear helmets in pre-game warmups is up to the coach.

The bench boss isn’t sure he has the right to force them to don them, even after Edmonton Oilers star Taylor Hall’s head was cut deeply when a teammate stepped on him Tuesday in an odd pre-game collision in Columbus, Ohio.

“It was an unfortunate situation that occurred,” said Flames head coach Brent Sutter. “I’m quite surprised kids coming out of junior now don’t wear them in warmup. Older players, I can understand.

“They have their rights to do what they wish. It’s not something that’s regulated in the National Hockey League.”

It’s a club-by-club issue. Some do make it mandatory.

“It’s on a team-by-team basis. In New Jersey when I was there, players had to wear helmets in warmup. It was something that was mandatory, set forth from up top in the organization,” Sutter said. “Some teams do it. Some teams, older players that have been in the league a long time, they don’t want to do it. You can’t force them.

“Maybe it’s the right thing to do (to make it mandatory). I don’t know. But I know that’s something that’s got to be discussed internally within organizations to decide if they want to do that or not.”

Glencross returns home

Curtis Glencross is back in Calgary being evaluated, but Sutter isn’t optimistic it will be a brief layoff after the team’s leading goal-scorer injured his left knee in Tuesday night’s loss to the San Jose Sharks.

“Depends what you put into short term or long term,” Sutter said, trying to keep his sense of humour in spite of a rash of injuries this season. If short term is day-to-day … I think it’s gonna be more week-to-week right now. But we’ll know more here in the next 48 hours.”

Sutter realizes it’s a big loss, but he’s getting used to it.

“You take away a guy that’s scored as many goals as he has out of your lineup, it affects you. But we’ve got to be able to make up for it in other ways. We’ll just keep moving along here,” said the head coach. “Injuries — we’ve been saying this for quite a period of time now — are part of the game. We’ve just got to try to fight through it. And we will.”

Stajan takes stage?

With Glencross out, Matt Stajan might be ready to make his return to the lineup. And Sutter said rookie Roman Horak is also capable of playing despite sitting out Tuesday night with soreness.

The question of line combinations, however, isn’t entirely clear.

Sutter said he’d keep the Michael Cammalleri-Mikael Backlund-Jarome Iginla trio together, but once a key part of the top line, Olli Jokinen now needs new partners.

“With Olli, we’re gonna have to sort through it and figure out what we’re going to do, who he’s gonna play with,” Sutter said, adding he liked what he saw from Blake Comeau in Tuesday’s loss on a line with Glencross and Jokinen.

“I thought that was Blake’s maybe best game he’s had since being a Calgary Flame. He was excited about being put in that situation — he responded to it. Now, he’s got to consistently do it — because there’s others that would love to be in that situation.”

On Twitter: @SUNMacfarlane


Videos

Photos