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As things stand right now, explaining icing to someone at their first hockey game is already somewhat of an arduous task. Don’t get me wrong – I have no idea why it’s so hard to grasp the concept (maybe I’m just a poor explainer-guy), but apparently it is.

Well good. trucking. luck. explaining it to someone after the NHL approves hybrid icing.

But obviously “ease of explanation” is not the important thing. I’m in favour of the introduction of hybrid icing – just because something is (seems?) complicated doesn’t mean we should scrap it.

There have been a few reports out of the GM meetings in Boca Raton that this could be introduced as soon as next season.

NHL.com’s Dan Rosen…

…and TSN.ca are among them:

After hearing a presentation from disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on player safety issues, the GMs broke into smaller groups to examine rule change proposals.

A new hybrid icing rule and eliminating hand passes in the defensive zone were both met with support from the seven GMs who discussed them.

For a rule recommendation to be made to the competition committee, at least 20 GMs must be in favour of it.

Hybrid icing is already used in NCAA hockey and the USHL. It’s not perfect, but holy crap is it safer. It eliminates the big collisions at the end boards that occur when two players rush to be the first to touch a puck (which has caused two broken femurs over the past few seasons).

When two players are rushing back and the rule is hybrid icing, the ref has until the face-off dots to use his discretion as to who would touch the puck first if he allowed the play to continue. If it’s clearly going to be the defender, icing. If it’s going to be close, icing. If the offensive player has the best chance to cleanly gain possession first, no icing.

And it’s not a race to the dots – that’d be an odd game-within-the-game. It’s all about that refs discretion. Maybe the forward is behind the defender, but because the puck is wrapping around the boards left-to-right, and the defender is on the left while the forward is on the right, the forward has the best chance to touch it first….no icing. Maybe the forwad and d-man get to the dots at the same time, but the forward has way more speed…no icing.

It’s the refs job to make that determination, and in doing it by the face-off dots, you don’t end up with a potentially dangerous situation near the boards.

It has its flaws in that there’s the potential for human error, but when your current flaw is “possible snapped thigh bones,” it might be time to lean towards a slightly less dangerous “worst-case scenario.”

If you hate yourself and like suffering, or want to learn more about the rule, “enjoy” this video for a thooorrroouuuggghhh explanation.

(s/t to Pro Hockey Talk for the video link) 

Comments (8)

  1. I am in favor of anything that gives the officials more discretion. I am also in favor of a much simpler way to denote sarcasm on the internet.

    In all seriousness, this is long overdue. I can’t remember specifically, but I seem to remember someone doing a quick informal study showing that over 95% of icings involved no “race” at all.

    • Why all the damn hijynx and splitting of hairs? Why not just go to no-touch icing altogether? Are those of us who actually watch pro hockey that rivetted by he icing in general such that some part of it must be salvaged for viewing pleasure??? Ridiculous.

      • No touch icing will slow the game down even more, the idea behind hybrid icing is the ability to keep play flowing. With no touch icing, forwards won’t even bother moving their feet if a pass is missed and the linesman’s arm goes up. With hybrid icing that forward has a chance to at least keep the play going and doing it without creating a potentially awful situation.

        • I play in a league with no-touch icing. More than the forwards giving up, the DEFENSE gives up. They tend to just coast along or even stop entirely to watch the puck cross the line. Sometimes, that doesn’t matter, as it would clearly be icing no matter what, but other times, it’s obvious that they could get down there and play the puck first… or else the forward is hauling ass trying to beat the puck to the goal line, and the defender just lets him go by, hoping the puck beats him to the line so the play will be blown dead.

          I’d love to see that end. I’d like to see people rewarded for busting it out there, and penalized for dogging it, rather than the exact opposite, which is what pure no-touch icing tends to do.

  2. Have there been any serious, icing-related injuries since they implemented the no-contact-on-icing-plays rule? Seems like if there’s already a rule that you’re not allowed to touch the person you’re racing with then a lot of the risk is eliminated already without the need for implementing a vague, complicating rule.

  3. Justin, just so I’m clear on the rule, “if it’s going to be close, icing.” So if the linesman determines that the race is going to be close and could lead to a collision they will blow it dead? If that’s the case, then hybrid icing makes more sense than I thought.

    Originally, I thought that it would only be blown dead if it was clearly going to be the defender that gets their first, which does nothing to solve the injury problem.

    One issue I haven’t heard discussed yet is in a one-goal game near the end of the third period the trailing team is pressing to score. The team that is leading often will just ice the puck so they can kill some time, get a face-off and hopefully reset. They kill a few seconds by having the trailing team skate the length of the ice to touch the puck for icing. With hybrid icing, wouldn’t the team that is trailing gain valuable seconds near the end of the game? Not saying this is good or bad, just that it’s a thing.

  4. My girlfriend and a coworker still have trouble figuring out offside. Kinda like Blake Wheeler.

  5. Why don’t we implement a rule of no touch icing when its a going to be a clear race for the puck rather than have injury of not hearing the whistle. When I play sometimes your not even able to hear the sound of the whistle nor see the refs waiving off calls

    To avoid constant icing if a player or team is deemed as intentionally icing the puck just call a penalty were the player or any teammate must serve just like the intentional delay of game over the glass…

    most players I know don’t intentionally ice the puck I just feel like this introduction is going to confuse and add more into an already fast paced thinking game….

    plus I would hate to explain this to my girlfriend now lol

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