Leafs weigh in on Simmonds

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:21 PM ET

TORONTO - Most Leafs agreed that Flyer Wayne Simmonds was being something less than a role model when he uttered an apparent homophobic slur at Sean Avery of the Rangers in an intense game against the Rangers on Monday night.

But they also think the league office will find it hard to keep bad taste and language out of the trenches in the high-speed, high emotion sport.

“So many things are said in the heat of a game and so many things happen,” goaltender James Reimer said.

“There has to be some respect shown by the player, but when you play against your brother (in real life), things happen that you wish didn’t, you know? In that case, you say ‘sorry’ and hope you’re forgiven, but you can’t police everything.”

“You hear salty language,” added veteran defenceman John-Michael Liles. “There are a lot of things said that probably cross the line, and that was definitely up there.”

SABRE RATTLING

Dec. 16 is a long way off, but big Paul Gaustad might have something to say to Colby Armstrong when the Buffalo Sabres meet the Leafs again.

The Sabres accepted a two-game suspension by league boss Brendan Shanahan to Brad Boyes for a hit on now-demoted Leaf Joe Colborne, but were angered when Armstrong’s hit from behind on Gaustad netted just a minor penalty. Gaustad wondered if his not staying down affected the league’s ruling.

“I’m going to try to bite my tongue as much as possible,” Gaustad told the Buffalo News. “I’m just a little bit disappointed by it, because I’m not the type of player that stays down. If I get up, I get up. They haven’t asked how I’m doing. The NHL hasn’t asked me. They don’t know if I’m injured or not. They didn’t check on it, at least to my knowledge.

“I’m not in charge of the rules. From what I saw, I hope that’s not a legal hit. Because if it is, I could haven’t gotten hurt more than I was.”

Sabres’ coach Lindy Ruff expressed the same frustration as Toronto general manager Brian Burke earlier in the evening, that some new interpretation of penalties and the resulting suspensions or lack of such, are too gray an area right now.

Gaustad reported a stiff neck after the hit, but practised Tuesday.

“If he’s hurt, we may see something different,” Ruff said. “There are areas that still have to be explained why or why not (a suspension). There’s a break-in period from Brendan’s point of view and our point of view.”

LOOSE LEAFS

Centre Tim Connolly’s collision with the boards on Monday caused him to miss Tuesday’s game in Ottawa. Connolly has been in just two pre-season games so far. Centre Tyler Bozak has been practising without apparent problems the past couple of days, but was also held out of the Ottawa game with an undisclosed injury...Coach Ron Wilson said injuries that happen before or during camp are just one of the hazards of the job. “Unfortunately in camp you’re never really 100% healthy,” he said. “Some of the things as a group, where you’re trying to create chemistry or learn something different, you’re left with what we have tonight, a mixed-up lineup. But that happens in regular season, too, and guys just have to deal with it.”


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