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)