The new Maple Leafs lineup met the new National Hockey League rules yesterday, in a morning that saw the first shootout of training camp and the first injury to a star player.
Centre Jason Allison was reduced to spectator status as he aggravated a hip flexor injury from the Leafs summer camp earlier this month. He watched as would-be linemate Jeff O'Neill scored once and then beat netminder J.F. Racine for the only goal of the three-man shootout, leading their scrimmage team to a 3-2 win at Ricoh Coliseum.
"Definitely a disappointment, but it's nothing big," Allison said of sitting out. "I just had a little strain, but with a double session that started out with a skate (he was not in much pain at that point before the scrimmage), they didn't want me to push it the first day with the bad ice.
"I was a little bummed out, but it's a long year and a long camp. It was probably the smart thing to do, rather than miss another two weeks."
Just the day before, Allison was musing about how he, Eric Lindros and Mats Sundin were capable of 80- to 90-point seasons if all three centres stayed healthy. Speaking of Lindros, he was rocked by rookie defenceman Staffan Kronwall as part of a heavy hitting affair in the scrimmage.
Head coach Pat Quinn had ordered all 62 players in camp to watch the NHL video on obstruction, but was not asking the officials who worked yesterday's game actually to call penalties.
"They were trying to help the players adjust with a word of warning," Quinn said of the refs. "But we might have to call penalties to educate the players.
"This won't be easy. They're applying the same standards in the Ontario Hockey League and they had 52 minutes in minors in one game. I think we're in for lots of the same. There won't be change without some price being paid."
The shootout resulted after O'Neill's team pulled the goalie and John Mitchell scored in the last minute. Lindros, Steve Thomas and Kyle Wellwood all were stopped by Justin Pogge, while O'Neill beat Racine high and teammate Matt Stajan was stopped.
"I think the shootout will be exciting for the fans," O'Neill said. "I'm a bit of a traditionalist, I'd like to have seen it stay the way it was (with tie games), but this is the way they've decided to go.
"The only thing bad about the shootout was the ice was so bad, you couldn't keep the puck flat. Luckily enough, I did."
Humid conditions weren't the only thing wrong at Ricoh yesterday. On six occassions, metal partitions holding the glass were dislodged by body contact and crashed to the ice. John Mitchell, Kris Newbury and Colin Murphy had the regulation goals.
The workouts continue this week, with the Blue and White Game at Ricoh on Saturday at 1 p.m.