Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 09/23/08 at 11:13 PM ET
A few years ago, the NHL made a change to the way icing infractions are handled. It had always been the case that after the stoppage of play, the ensuing faceoff took place in the offending team’s defensive zone. The post-lockout change was that the offending team could not make a line change. This summer, the NHL has made an additional change to icing, but it isn’t the one we all wanted to see. Instead of going with no-touch icing, the league is going with no TV timeout icing.
For years now, most serious fans, players, coaches, commentators, mascots, cheerleaders, PA announcers, hot dog vendors, goal judges, and zamboni drivers have been hoping that the NHL would institute no-touch icing. Most other leagues use it, and the reasoning is that there is a serious risk of stupid injuries to players trying to “beat out” an icing call. Loads of other bloggers have argued the point articulately with loads of data to support the claim that nothing good ever happens even when a player does beat out an icing call. Conversely, loads of players suffer high-ankle sprains and deep contusions and broken legs by crashing into the end wall at top speed chasing down an iced puck. This is senseless.
I was watching the preseason game between the Sabres and the Canadiens, when the commentators talked about the following subtle, but brilliant change.
There have always been TV timeouts at stoppages of play closest to 6:00, 10:00 and 14:00 of every period. This season, they will not allow a TV timeout to occur after a stoppage of play brought about by icing.
This is simple, obvious, and brilliant. I love it. Teams have heretofore been able to “cheat the system” by getting a free time out for their exhausted players by committing icing at those critical points. No more. Don’t get me wrong. I love this change, but it kind of irritates me that the league will go to extreme lengths to criminalize icing, but it refuses to take a stance against blows to the head and neck. Almost every league at every level has strict rules about contacting a player above the shoulder which are completely separate from cross-checking or high-sticking or interference or the like. Again, this is an area where a rule change could reduce the number of severe injuries, but the league would rather penalize goalies for playing the puck.
This is another post for another day, but I’d also love to see the league take a different approach to the delay of game - puck in crowd penalty. In my opinion, this is an infraction that is no more heinous than icing, but instead of a defensive zone faceoff with no line change, the penalty is a man in the box. It’s a silly, stupid rule that I’ve complained about dozens of times on the post game call-in shows. Yes, I even complain about this silly, stupid rule when it benefits the Canes.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.