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Ken Warren, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Sunday, January 28, 2007


In the old days, smaller National Hockey League draft prospects would stretch the truth as much as possible to reach loftier heights.

When asked about their height, players under 6-0 and their advisers tended to round up by a half inch or an inch to hit the standard. When players were officially measured, they often slipped a puck or two under the heels of their socked feet, hoping to stand taller in the eyes of those making the decisions on their futures.

It's hardly coincidence that the most common height in team manuals is 6-0.

"I know, I used to help them do it," said E.J. McGuire, an original Ottawa Senators assistant coach who was also a head coach in the American and Ontario Hockey Leagues, and now serves as director of the NHL's Central Scouting Service.

The size stereotype meant many of the most talented teenage hockey players weren't drafted and had to find alternative routes to make their mark.

Take Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning. "They are allowed to have an opinion and it doesn't feel better now because they didn't think I could play then. It still feels as good," said the 5-9, 175-pound star. He went undrafted, played at the University of Vermont, attended an Ottawa Senators training camp and had a brief fling with the Calgary Flames before winning both the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as leading scorer following the 2003-04 season.

St. Louis ranks second in the NHL scoring race, with 30 goals and 36 assists, behind only Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

But times are apparently changing. Thanks to the success of St. Louis and other smaller players and to the NHL's post-lockout attempt to bring more speed back into the game -- calling more hooking and holding penalties -- smaller players aren't being overlooked in the entry draft anymore.

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