Eagle getting used to it all

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

At his age, Maple Leafs goaltender Ed Belfour has enough to worry about, never mind a bunch of changes in the National Hockey League this season that could affect the way he does his job.

Belfour, who turned 40 in April, has been preparing at Leafs netminding coach Steve McKichan's goaltenders school for whatever the relaunched NHL brings him when training camp opens next month.

Not unlike others at his position, Belfour has been giving his new and smaller equipment a run-through. His pads, like those for NHL goalies across the board, have been reduced to a width of 11 inches from 12.

"The pads have been a bit of an adjustment," Belfour told Jim Kernaghan of Sun Media earlier this week after a workout at McKichan's school in Strathroy, near London.

"It doesn't take long. You have to get used to going down a bit quicker and being further out on the angles. The two inches (an inch on each pad) does make a difference."

Goalies were the big losers as the NHL decided at the end of the lockout that excitement and the actual scoring of goals had to be part of the game going forward.

While position players will have to get accustomed to such things as the tag-up rule and playing without a centre-ice line, goalies not only will have to wear smaller equipment but won't have as much free reign in playing the puck.

"I hope they got what they wanted so they can stop messing with the game," Belfour said.

"(Being restricted in puckhandling) will take some adjusting. You can't go into the corner, so it might take some time getting used to where you can play the puck."

There is one aspect of the game Belfour won't have to worry about during game nights at the Air Canada Centre. Starting this season, a goal horn will sound at the ACC after every Leafs goal.

The club is giving fans a chance to vote on their favourite horn sound (there are three choices) at the team's website at www.mapleleafs.com.

The Leafs toyed with a similar type of celebratory sound during the 1976-77 season, but abandoned the idea.

As for the personnel changes made by the Leafs during this hectic month -- Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk signing with the Florida Panthers were just two of the departures, while general manager John Ferguson added defenceman Alexander Khavanov and forwards Jeff O'Neill, Eric Lindros and Jason Allison -- Belfour was diplomatic.

"We're definitely going to miss Joe and Gary, two key leaders, two really hard-working guys," Belfour said.

"I think (Lindros and Allison) are going to help our team, size-wise. When they're on their games, they will make things happen."


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