TORONTO - Hard-hitting action at the Air Canada just got a whole lot more entertaining thanks to new boards and plexiglass at the facility.
Last season players dreaded being nailed into the seamless glass, which moved little and was thought to be factor in head injuries over the past few seasons. Now getting crushed into the boards is like crashing into a feather wall, well almost.
| Tie Domi took on a younger and much bigger Wade Brookbank during the Leafs/Sens game on Sunday. |
Graig Abel Photography
"I love this. I ran into them a few times and it had a give to it. I think every team should go back to these," Tom Fitzgerald said after the Leafs first exhibition game, a 3-1win over the Ottawa Senators, at ACC.
"I think you'll see a lot more healthy people. I really believe that that's the cause of some of the head injuries. It was like hitting a brick wall. If the boards don't give something has to."
On top of the obvious safety advantages, the new system makes the game that much more exciting. A collision causes the glass to rattle and shake, making the impact sound more devastating, something that should draw more attention to the physical side of the game.
"It's like Chicago Stadium or the old Buffalo Auditorium," Tie Domi said. "I was very impressed with the boards, the glass for sure. When you get hit hard or you're going in there hard you definitely notice the difference."
Darcy Tucker put the new equipment to the test on several occasions on Sunday.
"It cushions the blow a lot better. Maybe it will save some injuries and save some years on some guys," said Tucker, who is wearing bigger shoulder pads this season. "The puck doesn't go around as fast as it did on the old glass. There'll be some adjustments but for the most part it will be a nice feature to have out there. MAKING AN IMPRESSION
When junior aged defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo watched his one-timer trickle into the Senators' net, he didn't know it might have earned a few more days in the NHL.
General manager/coach Pat Quinn, who was playing Colaiacovo as a reward for a strong camp, said he will consider dressing the smooth skating youngster for another pre-season game.
"In our rankings, he is ahead of guys we had pencilled in early," Quinn said. "He did a fine job. He let his skills work for him and that's all a part of learning to be a good player."
Knowing that he is almost certainly headed back to the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, Colaiacovo had 20 family and friends on hand to see him play in the Blue and White.
"You think about (scoring a goal for the Leafs) a lot, but until it actually happens ... it was unbelievable when it went in," said Colaiacovo, the Leafs' first-round pick in 2001.
"I don't have any doubt about how good I played, but I don't want to sit back on it. There is room for improvement.
"I am prepared to do whatever I have to do to make myself develop properly." THIS AND THAT The Sens and Leafs racked up 10 powerplays each in the game. Toronto scored the lone power-play tally.
"We know it will take some time for both the referees and the players to adjust to (the obstruction crackdown). Let's hope we all adjust to it quick because it seems the fans were getting a little frustrated there for a while," Domi said.
New goalie Trevor Kidd relished the opportunity to get between the pipes for the first time in a Leafs uniform.
"It was nice to get to know the guys a little more on the ice tonight," Kidd said. "Just to try and get comfortable with each another and get to learn my tendencies."
"Of course there was a few butterflies, putting the Leafs jersey on for the first time and going out there."
Quinn said on Tuesday Brad Boyes and Luca Cereda will play in Detroit on Tuesday night.