Ice-time fuss frosts Quinn

Maple Leafs forward Jason Allison is back at centre after a stint on the wing in a bid to get more...

Maple Leafs forward Jason Allison is back at centre after a stint on the wing in a bid to get more ice time. Coach Pat Quinn said his forwards should focus more on how they are playing and what they need to do, rather than on ice time. (Toronto Sun/Michael Peake)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:45 AM ET

When it comes to his Maple Leafs, Pat Quinn wants to nip all this ice-time controversy in the bud.

Ever since Jason Allison suggested a week ago that a move from centre to the wing might give him the opportunity to play more shifts, the debate concerning ice time -- one that has revolved around captain Mats Sundin in previous years -- once again has reared its ugly head.

Feeling this topic is much ado about nothing, the Leafs coach had a blunt message yesterday: Don't expect to see Allison, Sundin or any other Leafs forward on the ice for almost half a game -- at least not on a regular basis.

"The guys that end up grabbing the scoresheet and looking at their minutes at the end of the game are not doing themselves any good," said Quinn, whose club will face off against the surprising New York Rangers at the Air Canada Centre tonight.

NEED TO DO

"They should be thinking about how they are playing and what they need to do. A lot of times the minutes follow."

Quinn was quick to point out that Allison did not demand more ice time, but was only looking for a way to contribute more.

"Obviously, if a guy thinks his own play revolves around lots of minutes, if 22 (minutes) is his number, he's not going to get it, even if he's at the top of his game," Quinn said. "We don't share the work that way. This is still about the team.

"(Allison) has not complained that way. He's not a problem in that regard. He wants to play lots and that's a big part of it.

DOMINANT

"(But) to me no team wins because of one dominant player who is supposed to get 22 to 25 minutes a game. I haven't seen a team doing that yet. You look at teams that won the (Stanley) Cup recently and they don't have that 25-, 26-minute forward. So it doesn't seem to work that well.

"Good teams aren't built around one person. We've got a lot of good players here and there is ample time for guys to play and get their time."

Interestingly, Allison (17:40) trails only Eric Lindros (18:47) among Leafs forwards in average ice time per game. Sundin, meanwhile, is sixth (16:11), surprisingly low when you consider he is the team's best player.

After his two-game stint on the wing, Allison found himself back in the middle yesterday, centring Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky.

"He's a pretty good defensive player and on the wing he's not playing down in that defensive zone coverage area, a place where he is pretty good,"Quinn said, adding that he has yet to decide if that unit will stick.

Either way, the move suits Allison just fine.

"I've been more comfortable there," said Allison, who is third in team scoring with 16 points. "At the same time whatever works best is fine by me.

"With five good centres, sometimes we're going to have to play the wing. Matt (Stajan) has played the wing, I've been there a bit, so I think you'll see some moving around over the course of the season."

Allison was asked if it is a rarity for a coach to roll four lines like Quinn often attempts to do.

"Yeah, at least on the teams I've been on," he said. "But it does happen. Whatever works, I guess."


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