NHL Hybrid Icing, Here to Stay?

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.

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4 Responses to NHL Hybrid Icing, Here to Stay?

  1. cgates14 says:

    Like you, I have mixed feelings on hybrid icing in its initial days, but I think that with time the rulings by the linesmen will become more clear cut as more different situations become routine. When the NHL moved to “zero-tolerance” on stick infractions after the 2004-05 lockout games were riddled with penalty calls until players and referees got used to the new standard and games began running smoothly again. I believe that this will be the same for the hybrid icing and that it will get better in time, hopefully it settles itself before it decides another game.

  2. Despite the hybrid icing being something that everyone around the NHL is going to have to get use to, including fans, I believe it was right move to go forward. The main reason it was put in play is to avoid any more serious injuries from any NHL players. So far almost 25% into the NHL season it has shown a significant change in that department. The one thing that scares me though, is due to the fact that hybrid icing is judgement call by linesmen, I feel that there could be some costly blown calls in critical moments in the future. For example, a bad call in a pivotal playoff game could result in a defensive zone face off, and goal, which will create controversy the next day, and for potential years to follow.

  3. hartmendy says:

    I think that you touched on an important topic as it has evidently caused a few problems in the NHL this year. As you had mentioned, this is most notable in the goal that Jonathon Bernier let in against the Carolina Hurricanes. As for your suggestion on Olympic Style no-touch icing, it would clearly solve both problems (injuries and confusion), however it would take away from the integrity of the race for the puck. But as Don Cherry said, once the playoffs are around, the race to the imaginary line to get to the puck will cause injuries as they will be fighting for the puck a little further out from the boards with a lot of speed. Evidently, it is tough to decipher what the league should do here, but the best way to go is through accommodating the NHLPA and the NHL owners perspectives.

  4. leaves09 says:

    Although you make some good arguments on why hybrid icing should go, I believe it should stay. There has been numerous amounts of injuries that have happened while racing for the puck on an icing. With the NHL trying to prevent injuries like concussions and hits to the head, I believe that having the hybrid icing will only make the game safer. I use to always cringe when I saw a defensemen racing back to get the icing call because one rut in the ice could trip him and make him slam into the boards most like causing a severe injury. These types of injuries can easily be avoided which is why I agree that the hybrid icing is better for the game of hockey.

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