Ferguson has ideas

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

John Ferguson Jr. is well-schooled on the repercussions of the two-minute minor.

His education on the subject began at an early age when his dad, rugged NHL forward John Ferguson Sr., would frequently visit the sin bin.

The younger Ferguson now feels the minor penalty could be one of the keys to opening up a sport many consider stagnant and boring.

"Why not start every power play with an offensive zone faceoff?" the Maple Leafs general manager suggested yesterday. "It wouldn't matter where the called was made.

"There are a number of other issues to be discussed regarding penalties, too. Does a player, for example, serve the full two minutes no matter how many times the opposition has scored while he has been in the box? And should icing be called against the team that is shorthanded instead of allowing them to ice the puck, as has been the case?

"These are all relevant topics we need to talk about in our search to improve an already great product. We need to find ways to increase scoring, or at least scoring chances."

Ferguson plans to float out a few such ideas to his fellow GMs in Detroit tomorrow when they kick off a two-day brain-storming session aimed at finding ways to open up the game.

Other subjects Ferguson figures will be on the agenda include:

- Ballooning equipment that makes the goalie look like the Michelin Man.

"Don't just look at goalies straight on, look at them from the side," he said. "Look at how thick their pads are. They don't even need to hug or cover the post any more," he said.

- Not only shootouts, but pre-cursors to shootouts, perhaps?

"Maybe a period of 3-on-3?" Ferguson asked.

- The concept of icing. No-touch icing has been a hot topic recently, but Ferguson also is intrigued by the idea of not allowing the defensive team to make a line change after icing the puck, no matter how tired the players are.

- The removal of the centre-ice red line.

- Fattening the red and blue lines, ideas which have been implemented in the American Hockey League this season.

- Other recently-applied AHL rules, such as tag-up offsides and limiting the area in which goalies can handle the puck.

"In a survey (of AHL players) concerning the new rules, the idea of not allowing the goalie to handle the puck in certain spots was the least-well received," Ferguson said.

And what of the concept of bigger nets, one that has been greeted with waves of criticism in the past week?

"I would trust all those who make the decisions will weigh all the pros and cons," he said.


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