Wing grilled daily

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:58 AM ET

The way Brendan Shanahan tells it, he was sitting in a restaurant with teammates, minding his own business while watching Monday's Calgary Flames-Minnesota Wild game.

"There was a bad call and suddenly everybody looks at me," explains Shanahan, pausing for dramatic effect.

"I said, 'What?' and they all started booing me.

"I hope Jarome (Iginla) is getting a lot of that, too."

As the man considered chiefly responsible for instigating the NHL's rule changes and obstruction crackdown, Shanahan is a big enough boy to handle the sort of feedback he's received from around the league so far.

Actually, he finds it amusing.

"On our team, if a guy gets a bad penalty late in a period, he's waiting for me in the dressing room," chuckles Shanahan, who organized and paid for a summit last year to first discuss the radical ways the game could be improved.

"I'm saying, 'Hey, I didn't tell him to call that.' We're assuming there wasn't a bad penalty call two or three years ago. It used to be if a ref missed a call, we'd say he had a bad night. Now we say, 'That competition committee sucks.' It's more ribbing than serious stuff on the ice.

"Guys who are pleased with it are silent in their pleasure -- guys like Joe Sakic who've played a long time and are very positive about it."

Unquestionably the leading force behind having the game re-examined, Shanahan is proud of this role on the nine-person competition committee -- especially now that fans and media types are raving about the return of speed, finesse and goal scoring.

"It's hard to find a bad game," said the gritty winger.

"Darryl Sutter was saying the other day he could feel the wind now as players go up and down the ice.

"The referees still need to refine and make sure a penalty is a penalty. I think they'd even say they're still figuring it out but they're getting more comfortable.

"It's a learning curve for everyone."

Not surprisingly, Shanahan is unwilling to take all the credit for the changes when fellow committee members such as Iginla, Rob Blake, Bob Gainey, Kevin Lowe, Don Waddell and Ed Snider spent an equal number of hours holed up in boardrooms reviewing film and discussing philosophies. However, he is pleased something was done to help save a game destined to continue eroding on and off the ice if not for the lockout that enabled such discussions to evolve.

"It gave a lot of us an opportunity with time off to do something we probably wouldn't have done if we had a two-month summer," says Shanahan, 36, who'll face off against the Flames tonight (6:30 p.m., 'Dome).

The best part of all, he adds, is the new NHL is here to stay.

And while he expects to continue hearing it from colleagues every time a questionable whistle is blown, the talkative 18-year veteran already has a comeback for any young player who moans aloud.

"Hey, I used to do it, too. Sitting on the bus having a beer, it's easy to uncover problems. It's not so easy to make attempts to solve them," says Shanahan, pointing out all four players on the committee will be replaced within three years. "When I get guys coming up and complaining to me, I say, 'Great, if you're so interested, put your name in the hat and in three years you'll be sitting in those nine-hour meetings. I'll be golfing.' "


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