Rulebook just fine, Leafs say

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:40 AM ET

The Maple Leafs have a message for NHL general managers debating the state of the game this week: Hands off!

With the league still adjusting to the dramatic changes coming out of the 2004-05 lockout, most Leafs quizzed on the topic yesterday were against any more rules being introduced or tweaked.

"Leave the game alone and enjoy it a lot more," coach Paul Maurice urged yesterday. "The game is good in so many ways ... the only thing missing is the Leafs in first place."

Jason Blake, one of the smaller skill players who was to benefit from the obstruction crackdown, was hard-pressed to whine after scoring 80 goals since the lockout.

"Obviously, there are still some controversial calls with sticks," Blake said. "But they've told us the best way (to avoid any misinterpretation) is to keep our sticks on the ice.

'LEFT BEHIND'

"When we first started playing again (in 2005), I remember our games were a penalty-fest, 12 to 15 calls a game. But you have to get used to it or get left behind."

Goaltenders initially were concerned that the equipment reductions, inability to field pucks outside the trapezoid and restrictions on their defencemen would leave them vulnerable to injuries and a flood of goals, but Vesa Toskala has "no complaints."

"The refs have been doing a good job," he said. "You can hear them yell: 'Watch the goalie', when play is going on."

If there is unanimous agreement about changing some rules, it's that players, especially defencemen, want to eliminate the delay-of-game calls for clearing a puck into the stands, and the fighters want the instigator rule tossed.


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