Strachan on hockey

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

There is fear in Philadelphia that Flyers captain Keith Primeau may miss the entire season.

It has now been one month since he was elbowed in the jaw by the infamous Alexander Perezhogin of the Montreal Canadiens and suffered another concussion.

If the fears are realized, the loss to the Flyers would be monumental.

Primeau was by far the most dominant player during the conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. This year, in conjunction with Peter Forsberg, he was to give the Flyers the power down the middle that couldn't be matched by any team in the league.

The premise was that while the Ottawa Senators might be able to lead the league in flash during the regular season, the tandem of Primeau and Forsberg would overwhelm their Ottawa counterparts -- Jason Spezza and Bryan Smolinski -- should the two teams meet in the playoffs.

It took Primeau 14 months to recover from his last concussion and he's still exhibiting serious symptoms from this one.

He said recently that any physical exertion gives him "crazy eyes" which induces the sensation of being on the deck of a rocking boat.

The Flyers are keeping quiet about it (at least they're not lying as certain other teams would in this situation) but privately, they're worried about Primeau's long-term status.

POUND HAS TO PROVE IT

If Dick Pound has any integrity whatsoever, he has only two possible courses of action.

He must either produce documented proof of his allegation that a third of National Hockey League players use performance-enhancing drugs, or he must resign.

By his unsubstantiated allegation, Pound not only brought the entire NHL into disrepute, he damaged the reputation of the World Anti-Doping Agency, of which he is chairman.

His statement was akin to the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission announcing that one-third of the stocks on the market are scams, or the head of Ford Motor Company announcing that one-third of all Chrysler cars are unsafe.

Pound can try and weasel out of it using semantics if he wants. He can says that even if only one player uses steroids, that would qualify as "up to" one-third of all players.

He can say that by performance-enhancing, he included Aspirin, Sudafed and other pharmaceuticals that are not restricted.

But the reality is that he knew full well that he was effectively charging one-third of the NHL players with being cheats and criminals.

That statement is simply not true and if the head of WADA can make such statements, then what credibility does WADA have?

For the good of his own organization, not to mention the good of the NHL, he should produce documentation. If he can't do so, then he should apologize, retract, then resign.

LEAFS WEREN'T JOBBED

While it is the nature of fans to feel persecuted, the complaints about the call in overtime on Friday aren't very well founded.

The Maple Leafs appeared to have scored on a goalmouth scramble 43 seconds into overtime, but referee Rob Shick said that the play had been whistled dead before the puck crossed the line.

Leafs coach Pat Quinn said, "It was clearly a bad call."

The puck appeared to cross the line, get knocked out, then go back in.

The first instance was reviewed by the video judge who decided that the puck did not cross the line. Given that he has access to all the equipment and all the replays, it's hard to argue with that decision.

As for the second occasion, the Leafs felt that the whistle had not blown. There are two points to be made on that.

First, according to the NHL's case book, the play is dead when the referee decides in his mind that it's dead, not the half-second or so later when he blows his whistle.

That precedent was established some six years ago in a game in Ottawa when, coincidentally enough, Shick was the referee.

Secondly, in an attempt to protect goaltenders, the league has told its referees that as soon as a player makes contact with a goalie during a scrum, the play is to be whistled dead. Mats Sundin was pushing Carolina goalie Martin Gerber when Shick stopped play.

The Leafs were not familiar with this interpretation, and one of their diehard fans in the media whined that goals of that nature, "are scored hundreds of times" each season.

Apparently they all missed the game on Monday when Steve Konowalchuk of the Colorado Avalanche had a goal disallowed on a similar play. The interpretation is applied league-wide, not just when the Leafs are involved.

HERE AND THERE

In what must be a shock to New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, his former defenceman Scott Niedermayer is playing every bit as well for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks as he did for the Devils -- even though his hair is now about eight inches longer. Had Niedermayer still been in New Jersey, he would have been sent to a barber long ago. But then again, that's one of the reasons that Niedermayer is no longer in New Jersey ... The NHL often gets criticized for the bumbling manner in which it operates, but in its preparation for emergency medical situations, it deserves nothing but praise. By league mandate, every arena is fully equipped to handle medical emergencies swiftly and capably, and it's clear that in the case of Jiri Fischer, a life was saved as a result ... Every NHL team complains about its schedule. But it could be worse. At the moment, the Manitoba Moose are in the midst of a stretch which requires them to play nine games in 12 nights ... It's nice to see that Los Angeles Kings president and CEO Tim Leiweke projects a profit if the Kings make the playoffs. "This would be the first year the Kings ever made money in our history," he said. That makes one wonder what kind of businessmen run these teams if they lose money for almost 40 years, and keep coming back for more. Then again, what was the original price of that franchise? $2 million wasn't it? ... The Chicago Blackhawks have been taking so many penalties that they're going to meet with director of officiating Stephen Walkom this week. The Hawks' disadvantage in five-on-three situations is 32-10. 'We're going to fix it," said GM Dale Tallon. "It has to be fixed"...The fairytale story of the month, perhaps the season, is Edmonton Oilers goalie Mike Morrison. He started the season with the Greenville Grrrowl of the East Coast Hockey League and is now 4-0 with the Oilers.


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