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NHLPA approving hybrid icing: no shoo-in

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.”

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: hybrid+icing, john+tortorella, kevin+bieksa, vancouver+canucks



Don’t hate the hybrid icing, but I find it odd that it that the NHL is fine adding another judgement call situation for officials.  I saw several times during the preseason, especially on pucks sent hard around the net where icing was called and it wasn’t clear who was going to get there first.  The defenseman would clearly hit the dots first so icing was called, but he was following the puck around the net, while the opposing forward was heading up the opposite wall with the puck moving towards him.  I kind of hope that linesmen get more consistent on icing calls as the season progresses, I’m hoping they just need more than the few games of preseason to get used to it themselves.

Posted by Valek from Chicago on 09/30/13 at 04:30 AM ET

Slumpy's avatar

As long as Gregson is still in charge of the NHL refs they will continue to suck overall.

The helmet rule is stupid to for fighting. Goons will simply agree often to take off their lids at the same time before throwing down because breaking your knuckles on a visor or helmet is asinine in a fight.

Posted by Slumpy from Under My Wheels on 09/30/13 at 08:49 AM ET


Game I went to it seemed the linesmen weren’t sure what the rule was. Instances where the forward clearly had the advantage since they were skating forward and the D were skating backwards to impede the forwards movement didn’t result in interference, but icings because the D may have hit the dot first.

I am not opposed to some form of hybrid icing, but using it for one pre-season and then adopting it is not the way to go. The refs and linesman need more time to figure out how to make the judgement call. It may need to be implemented at the minor league level and allow the officials to learn how to call it first before it makes it to the pros.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 09/30/13 at 11:01 AM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

Slumpy, Gregson retired in August (http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=679767). Walkom is back to being in charge of the refs.

Posted by NHLJeff from Denver on 09/30/13 at 02:05 PM ET

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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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