HIGH ANXIETY: Drawing blood with a high stick no longer calls for an automatic major penalty and ejection, but director of officiating Bryan Lewis said the incentive is still there to keep sticks down.
Lewis said officials counted 33 times last season when players were given major penalties and game misconducts that were later shown to have been accidental stick infractions. In all, 148 players were ejected for the infraction.
The rule was changed this season to a four-minute penalty -- a double minor -- for accidental high-sticking, but the league kept the five-and-out rule -- five-minute major and game misconduct -- for what is deemed deliberate high-sticking or careless use of the stick.
"The same message is there -- don't high-stick -- but I think we're being more realistic," said Lewis, who was in Montreal on a tour of NHL cities to explain officiating policies and to try to boost the image of officials.
The new rules provide tough penalties for stick fouls and boarding -- but leave a lot of room for officials' discretion. To help the referee, linesmen now may assist in calling accidental high-sticking, spearing without contact and penalty shots for throwing the stick.
ANDERSON BACK: F Glenn Anderson returned to the Oilers, ending a brief holdout. He announced his retirement this month after complaining Edmonton would not renegotiate his contract, which calls for about $315,000 this season.
GM Glen Sather said all along that until Anderson returned there was no hope his pleas for more money would be answered.
JETS ON HOLD: A consultant's report on a new home for Winnipeg is expected within a month and, in the meantime, the team's president says the franchise is not for sale.
Barry Shenkarow was responding to rumors that Lloyd Pettit, the man behind an aborted expansion bid for Milwaukee, wants to buy the Jets and move them to Wisconsin.