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Chad Kilger and the Ten Foot Swath

Talk about your political spins!

Yes, damnit, I had to look up the word "swath" in the dictionary.

My 30 year old Funk and Wagnell's describes it as a "narrow belt, track, or strip".

This was made neccesary by comments made by Paul Maurice, coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It seems Maurice was slightly pertubed after the Leafs shootout loss to the Habs last Saturday, upon noticing that the Zamboni had cleared a wider path for the habs shooters, than it did for the Leafs.

The National Hockey League has investigated the complaint from Maurice that his team's shooting end was not properly prepared for the shootout with the Canadiens. Maurice did offer that his team would have lost anyway, but he wasn't satisfied with the ice-scraping job performed after overtime, complaining the shooting lane was narrow for the Leafs.

Maurice asked referees Gord Dwyer and Kelly Sutherland for another go-round by the ice-surfacing machine. The referees, however, did not honour the request.

Mike Murphy, NHL's senior vice-president of hockey operations, confirmed that the league looked into the matter yesterday, but that no conclusions had been reached.

"We have already started to review the situation," Murphy said. "We need to be careful not to react to accusations by one team or organization against another.

"The video didn't show a poor scrape job, it just showed the cleaned ice to be narrower at the Montreal end
Three of the four Toronto-Montreal games this season have been decided by a shootout. Maurice indicated a narrower shooting lane was also left for the Leafs the previous time they were at the Bell Centre, on Oct. 28, when the Leafs won 5-4.

So, what's his point?

It hardly stopped Mats Sundin's shootout goal. It didn't look to hamper Kyle Wellwood's swift backhanded top corner effort that was stopped by Habs goaltender Cristobal Huet.

"I'm just saying the last time we were in here, there was a six-foot swath from the blueline to the crease," Maurice said.

"I asked the refs]to bring the Zamboni back out. Our shooting lane was narrower. Anyway, it didn't cost us the game."

Oh yeah, the shut to hell up, why don't you?

What cost the Leafs the game on Saturday was blowing a two-goal lead with less than nine minutes to go in the third period. That and Darcy Tucker's neaderthal reaction to a clean Francis Bouillon hit on Wellwood!

It's another symptom of the team's fragile confidence, as its losing string was extended to a season-worst four games.

(RC-Note: It's gotten worse!)

The following Sunday, the Leafs held an annual skills competition for charity.

The big news was hard nosed forward Chad Kilger blasted a 106.6 mile an hour slap shot to break Al Iafrate's record for shot velocity that was set in 1993.

"I wasn't sure what the record was, but the game has changed so much, Iafrate was using a wooden stick, and we use these one-piece composites," a gracious Kilger said. Kilger who is one of the most underrated forwards in the NHL was asked why he doesn't score more, with such a blistering shot. He replied that NHL defenses rarely allow for such a windup. "I don't get that many chances or that much time to take a shot."

He was also the winner of yesterday's fastest skating competition.

Kilger, whose father Bob will be sworn in as my city's mayor any day now, has always needed a lesson in intensity. Talented as he is, he has the nasty habit of coasting through games based on a previous nights output. He is satisfied with being a fringe NHler, comfortable away from pressures that would find him should he be more consistant.

It is what got him placed on waivers by the Canadiens, and what has plagued him his entire career. With the sklls he has displayed during the weekends event, he is obviouslycapable of more.

Trouble is, he is exactly like his old man - a politician of reputation and name only, well liked and approachable, who rarely delivers on promises.

Getting to Bob Kilger's office sometimes involves navigating your way past an inconsiquential ten foot swath of red tape.

And hey, I've been there!