This year in the NHL, many new rule changes were incorporated in order to increase player safety and prevent serious long term injuries. One of the major rule changes in the NHL, was the adoption of a hybrid icing rule, which is a combination of touch icing, the rule used by the NHL since its inauguration and no-touch icing which is used in IIHF international hockey events. So far during this 2013-14 NHL Season, there have been many controversial calls due to the hybrid icing rule change. I believe that the main reason there has been so much controversy is that when a linesman calls for hybrid icing they do so under their own discretion as it is not a clear cut rule on when to call the icing and when to wave it off. The linesman uses discretion to determine that if an attacking player would clearly beat the defending player to the puck they will call an icing. The main problem with this is that with game moving as fast as it does today a lot of those battles for loose pucks are extremely close and the linesman are not always in perfect position and have a clear vocal point to determine which player would touch the puck first.
A large scale example of how a hybrid icing call can impact the result of an NHL game could be seen during the October 17th game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs. During the game a legally “iced” puck took a funny bounce off of the back boards and went into the Leafs net. The Leafs ended up losing the game 3-2. This goal was so controversial because the linesman argued that the Hurricanes player would have beaten the Leafs player to the puck and waved off the icing under the new rule. This discretionary call led to the game winning goal in game that could have serious playoff implications if the Leafs were to miss the playoffs by 1 or 2 points when the season comes to an end.
I believe the solution to this problem and other controversial icing calls is for the NHL to fully adopt the no-touch icing rule like the ones used in international competitions. No touch icing would arguably prevent more injuries then hybrid icing and it would allow for a clear cut decision on all icing calls, without having to worry about a linesman’s discretion. No touch icing has worked effectively in international hockey and Canadian major junior hockey for years, which shows that there is no reason it couldn’t be adopted into the NHL game with ease. I believe making the correct call is the most important thing, because every call can impact the final result of a game. This is why I strongly believe that the NHL should seriously consider removing the hybrid icing rule and adopt the no-touch icing rule.