New rules a joke: Belfour

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:07 PM ET

TORONTO -- Ed Belfour calls it "a joke."

And he's not laughing.

The Toronto Maple Leafs veteran yesterday ripped into the National Hockey League's decision makers for limiting the areas in which goaltenders will be allowed to handle the puck this season.

Under terms of the rule ratified by the league's board of governors on July 22, goaltenders may play the puck behind the goal-line only in a trapezoid-shaped area defined by lines that begin six feet from either goal post and extend diagonally to points 28 feet apart at the end boards.

For goalies with the skills such as Belfour and Marty Brodeur who love to wander and stick handle, it is a stinging blow.

"I think at this level (the rule) is a bit of a joke," a candid Belfour said yesterday after completing an informal hour-long workout with many of his Leaf teammates.

"Maybe some forwards should play with their opposite hand. Or, better yet, play with their sticks upside down. That's what I equate it to."

'RIDICULOUS'

For the record, Brodeur has referred to the same rule as "ridiculous."

"I'm sure the general managers who don't have a puck-handling goaltender were the ones who voted for this rule," the Carman product said. "We have the world's fastest game, one of skill, and, like Marty has said, they are taking one of our skills away.

"I'm sure Marty and I will find a way around it, though."

One rule change that might actually benefit Belfour is the removal of the centre-ice red-line, allowing goalies to spring teammates with breakaway feeds up the ice.

"It does make it a little easier to make long passes," he said.

There were two Belfours between the pipes during yesterday's shinny session.

At the opposite end from Ed was his 16-year-old son Dayne, who likely will play AAA major midget for a team just outside of Detroit this season.

"It was awesome," Dayne said after facing a variety of NHL and AHL players yesterday. "I'm just having fun and trying to learn out there."


Videos

Photos