Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 09/30/13 at 12:49 AM ET
Hybrid icing has been neither a cure-all nor a disaster.
In instances where there's a race for the puck and a defenseman has a clear advantage heading toward the faceoff dot, he no longer needs to fear someone trying to ram him into the end boards between the dot and the icing line. The play's simply blown dead.
In instances where teams nursing a lead hope to prey upon their opponents' desperation by pursuing iced pucks at Larry Murphy speed, burning clock until they reluctantly touch the puck, and in instances where teams desperate to tie the game find that the "attainable passing" rule's abolishment yields home-run passes that don't click wrecking precious seconds off the clock late in games, they can still "go for it."
But there are instances in which the races are tight as tight can be, where two players are roaring toward the end boards and jostling each other, jabbing and jamming and prodding and poking, the "race" still matters, and that's incredibly dangerous.
There are also instances, as this Red Wings fan can tell you, where referees unfamiliar with the implementation of the new rule screw up, and players both a) win races and b) touch the puck, as Nathan Paetsch did prior to the Maple Leafs' first goal on Saturday. I've seen more than a few instances when the refs are focusing so very hard upon legislating "the race" that they blow a simple icing call, and it's cost teams goals.
The NHL and the Board of Governors are comfortable with the rule, but the NHLPA needs to approve hybrid icing for it to remain in effect, and the Vancouver Province's Ben Kuzma found that Canucks defenseman (and NHLPA rep) Kevin Bieksa wasn't sure whether the PA's voting this past weekend would yield a favorable or negative result on Monday evening:
Members of the NHL Players Association have voted and will announce Monday on whether they approve the modified rule in which play is stopped if the player on the opposing team reaches the face-off dot first — instead of skating across the goal line to touch the puck first and negate an icing call.
“There is a division and we’ll see what the final number is,” said Bieksa. “I understand what they’re trying to do — they’re trying to make it safer for defencemen going back for pucks and take away that race, that last-second stick in the feet. But in the dressing room right now, it’s divided. I know the forwards don’t like that if they’re going back for that puck and if they’re a little bit ahead — instead of it being a race where the D-man is trying to touch the puck — you can kind of unload on the forwards. That’s what they don’t like. I obviously don’t mind that part. And it’s pucks rimmed on the wall. Are you going back for that or are you getting back (to the dot)? I’m a little bit unsure of that and we’re making it tough on the linesmen to race back and be ahead of the play and make that tough call.”
Dan Hamhuis favours hybrid icing because the Canucks defenceman believes it’s a perfect mix of the Sedins still being allowed to do their play (the long-bomb pass from Henrik and Daniel Sedin) and protecting blueliners.
“It’s an unnecessary risk going back there and we’ve seen injuries on that play over the years,” he said of races to touch pucks in conventional icing.
Like players, Canucks coach John Tortorella has mixed feelings on hybrid icing and how it affected preseason games.
“At times I did and at times I didn’t like it,” he said. “I still think there’s a huge place in the game for races and certain times when you want to protect against dangerous collisions, so I don’t know what to think about it. A couple of times the other night (Thursday), there could have been a really good race and it’s blown dead. It (momentum) just dies and you can feel it — that’s what I don’t like it. I’m a big proponent of putting pucks in places and creating races to gain zones.”
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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