I suppose the hybrid icing rule being used in the AHL right now really isn’t that complicated, but any time you give referees more leeway to make judgement calls, you open them up to an increased level of scrutiny.

Still, that’s a small price to play for the bump in safety, as Taylor Fedun and Kurtis Foster – both of whom have snapped a femur racing for pucks versus on-rushing forwards – would likely agree.

The new rule basically states that if a d-man is trying to out-race an opponent to touch the puck for an icing, and seems likely to get there first, the linesman can blow the play dead – icing – before there can be a potentially dangerous collision. The decision is made by the linesman when the two men reach the faceoff dots in the d-zone (if you’re going to call this rule, I say we put a thin line on the ice there).

In a nutshell, a situation like the one below, where the two players are moving at around the same speed, would be whistled (assuming the puck was shot from the other side of the red line as usual). It would be blown dead in much closer situations too, but just for understandings-sake:

It’s not a race to the dots, however – the forward can be behind the defenseman, but if he has momentum, or a better angle (as detailed below), the linesman can let the play continue.

From Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal:

The league will vote on whether to keep it a permanent fixture on Nov. 19. It’ll likely stay in. The experiment is for the NHL’s benefit to determine if they’ll go that route as well.

Oilers prospect Taylor Fedun was the main focus of Matheson’s piece.

He said he hasn’t subconsciously worried about dashes for the puck as it skitters across the end-line.

“I’ve been in the races, but things happen so fast out there. You don’t have time to worry about the ifs.

“If I ever get in a position where I’m thinking (about falling into the boards again) and that takes an extra half-second, that’s a detriment,”said the former Princeton Tigers blue-liner.

“I’ve played a full season with hybrid icing in college. It’s a good example of keeping the positives of touch-icing where a forward can win a race and keep a play going. But at the same time, you put the players’ safety at the forefront and you take out the dangerous collisions five or 10 feet from the boards.”

It seems like it could minimize some of the risk of going back for a puck for a defenseman, while also speeding up the game – therefore, I’m in favour of it. They’ll have some tough decisions to make on close plays, but it’s hockey – there aren’t a whole lot of easy calls.

What do you think? Are you pro-hybrid icing? Do you like the way it is now? Or would you prefer to see it go no-touch icing entirely?

(Stick-tap to Kukla’s Korner)

Comments (12)

  1. Having seen it a bit down here in the A, aesthetically, it’s sort of a let-down. Big race that just sort of dies on a whistle. My initial thought was that I’d prefer straight no-touch icing. Just blow the thing dead already and spare us the “Ooo! Ooo! Oh… lame” let down. But I guess if a F is hustling and the ref thinks he can get it first without a big bang-up, he deserves the chance.

    I was always in favor of it in theory, but in the course of an exciting game, it stands out as a bit of a buzz kill in the moment. But then real hockey starts up again and you forget about it. I’m assuming by the end of the season, I won’t notice it at all. Or at least it will feel somewhat normal.

    • Yeah, I’m not really sure how I feel about it, I considered that factor…I think it depends how tight the refs call it. But then, I’ve never seen it.

      • I currently play in a no-touch league, and honestly? It stinks. Guys just stop chasing after dubious clears that are clearly dying before the line, and it gets ridiculous hearing everyone bitch when a ref waives the icing because of it – or bitching because it *wasn’t* waived – or having the forward in the clear chasing down the loose puck and *tweeeeet* because he didn’t catch it before it got all the way down. Now he gets to head back exhausted for a face-off as punishment for hustling and beating the defender? That’s not right.

        The thing about hybrid icing is, once it’s waived off, it’s waived off. If the linesman lets play continue and the defense gets there first anyway, it’s still a live play. And the linesmen are instructed not to waive it off unless the forward is likely to get there first. So in effect, this just moves the icing line to the dots. And understood that way, it becomes much simpler.

        • I dunno, when I see no-touch in the CHL, 95% of the time, I really don’t care. Occasionally there’s a chase that dies when the puck hits the goal line, but most of the time, it just saves everyone a couple extra seconds of skating for no reason.

          Seems like one of the rare instances these days where I think Don Cherry is unequivocally right.

  2. Saw it here in Grand Rapids a week and a half ago when the Griffins opened the 2012-13 season. Took me by surprise the first time I saw it. By the end I wasn’t giving it a second thought. It didn’t happen that often, or if it did I didn’t notice it. Personally I think it’s a good rule and if it takes away that hit from behind a couple of feet from the boards I’m in favor of that. There’s still a race; it’s just a race to the dots (which is a lot safer race). And, like I said, I got used to it pretty quickly. The two-line pass took me longer to get used to!

  3. After two broken femurs, this change should be a no brainer.
    I’m going to see two Connecticut Whale games this weekend so I’ll be able to see it in action.

  4. I’ve seen it in action a few times now. It mostly doesn’t bother me or just fades into the background, but there was one occasion during a game between the Heat and Wolves where icing was called and the forward actually got to the puck first. He was second to the faceoff dots but had more speed and beat the defenceman to the puck. That was a bad moment.

    Really, it just depends on how good the judgement of the linesman is. Some linesmen will call it tighter than others and whether you like the rule or not may depend on that.

  5. I was also at that Wolves game and the players were yappin’ at the refs every single time they called the hybrid icing, especially on the play that Daniel mentioned. It doesn’t seem like the players fully understand it either.

  6. I would like to see automatic icing if cleared from within you’re own defensive zone, and no icing if thrown in from anywhere in the neutral zone.

    In the end though, were talking about icing so who cares. If hybrid icing eliminates a few injuries over the course of the season then lets do it.

  7. Ultimately, I think it’ll be a bit strange for hockey fans the first few times that they see it, but it won’t be that big of a deal to them. You’re right though, explaining how it works to non-fans or new fans (who seem to have a hell of a lot of trouble understanding icing and offsides as they are), may be a challenge. Frankly, I’d rather see them go for no touch or keep the normal rules than to do some hybrid.

  8. don’t like it, forwards can still be slammed into the boards so it’s only preventing injury to one side and it gives the refs another thing to screw up (which one is more ‘likely’ to get to the puck first?)

    • Huh? Where are you getting the idea that forwards can still be slammed into the boards so it’s only preventing injury to one side? Forwards can’t be slammed into the boards any more than defensemen can. You lost me there.

      Regardless, having watched a couple seasons of hybrid icing in the NCAA, no one is getting slammed into the endboards and it really doesn’t even seem noticeable 99% of the time. Those intense races for the puck that people have in their minds when this subject comes up only occur very very rarely in real games (ie. non-hypothetical games actually played on ice versus hypothetical games in our minds, which tend to have a much different “boring/crap play” to “entertaining play” ratio than the real thing). And honestly, the race for the icing isn’t really *that* exciting anyhow; Oooh, he skated hard and broke up the icing, good for him! And now he’s alone in the offensive zone, among several defensive players, and doesn’t really have control of the puck anyhow since all he did was race to TIP it first, not race to GET it first. Now the D has to reset the puck and start from their own zone rather than a whistle and a faceoff at the other end. Yay!

      My point being that from what I’ve seen, taking all the icings you see and paring it down to the ones where there’s a neck and neck race to the endboards, then paring it down further to the ones where the offensive player does actually break up the icing, then paring it down further to the ones where the offensive player breaks up the icing AND gets viable possession of the puck (given that the defensive team seems to still gets control of the puck after a broken-up icing about 75% of the time anyhow), you’re left with a once-in-a-blue-moon offensive opportunity of unicorn-grade rarity which really isn’t worth the injuries that have occurred.

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