NHL GMs thoughts on potential icing changes and why hybrid icing is a good thing

During the  2011 NHL Research Development and Orientation Camp one of the rule changes they again looked into was how to treat icing calls. As it is now, players have to race to touch the puck to get the icing call or to nullify it. During last year’s camp and again during this year’s camp, they’ve tested out different variations on icing including no-touch icing and hybrid icing.

No-touch icing means blowing the play dead immediately upon the puck crossing the end line on a dump from behind the red line by the offending team. This is the rule that exists under IIHF rules and what we’ve seen called in the World Championships and Olympics the last couple years.

Hybrid icing differed from conventional icing in that once the puck was past the end line, the first player to the face off dot in that end would either get icing waved off or get it whistled down immediately. It’s a rule that’s currently in place in college hockey and the USHL and after seeing it in effect up close, it’s one that works rather seamlessly.

NHL general managers, however, mostly disagree with no-touch icing as NHL.com’s Dan Rosen shares from R&D Camp in Ontario.

“I am not for no-touch icing whatsoever,” Phoenix GM Don Maloney told NHL.com. “Watching enough other leagues that have the no-touch, what I don’t like is when the play stops. The puck is still moving but all the players stop and wait for it to go over the goal line. It’s a speed game and you’re supposed to play to the whistle. I just don’t like that. It just aesthetically looks poor.”

“The National Hockey League has an intense game that pushes speed,” added Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini, “and you want to reward the team that is aggressively trying to get the puck back.”

That said, Maloney, Tambellini and many of their fellow general managers remain intrigued by the concept of hybrid icing, which is a mixture between touch and no-touch icing and gives the linesman the discretion to call icing or wave it off.

The possibility of seeing hybrid icing in the future exists as many of the GMs said they’d like to see it tested in the AHL first before getting a chance to examine it for the NHL. A move to hybrid icing away from the current way it’s called would make for a sensible change to the game.

After seeing the rule used up close and personal in college hockey during the past year, it’s one that makes sense to use as it still keeps the aggressive play involved and the speed is still there, just the risk of having a player getting crunched needlessly into the end boards is eliminated and fans still get the race for the puck that many coaches, players, and GMs like with how icing is currently called.

Since player safety is such a major issue in the league, switching to a brand of icing that takes the discretion on icing plays from whether or not a guy should’ve hit an opponent and changing it to whether or not one guy beat the other to the face off dot to confirm or nullify icing makes a ton of sense. After all, the only time we see guys racing each other down the rink is at the All-Star Skills Competition for the fastest skater. Making this one change could add another thrill (albeit a bit of a drier one) to the game.

 

Bergeron may need surgery for sports hernia

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Patrice Bergeron says he may need offseason surgery to repair a sports hernia that he dealt with all year.

Bergeron missed the Bruins’ first three games of the 82-game schedule with a lower-body injury; however, he managed to play the next 79, plus six more in the playoffs as Boston fell to Ottawa in the first round.

Typically, a sports hernia is first treated with rest and physical therapy. Then, if that doesn’t solve the problem, surgery may be required.

It was a frustrating start to the season for the 31-year-old center. Bergeron had just 24 points in 49 games before the All-Star break, but he finished with a respectable 53 points in 79 games, including 21 goals.

Bergeron could win his fourth Selke Trophy in June. He’s a finalist for the award, along with Ryan Kesler and Mikko Koivu.

In other Bruins injury news, Brandon Carlo had a concussion and Torey Krug an MCL injury. Neither d-man was able to suit up for the B’s in the postseason, though Krug was close to returning.

Defenseman Adam McQuaid, hurt in Game 2 against the Sens, had a neck injury.

No Patrick Kane for U.S. at Worlds

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Tough day for USA Hockey.

After learning that prized Toronto rookie Auston Matthews was skipping the World Hockey Championships, the organization was informed Chicago star Patrick Kane would also be passing on the event.

Kane hasn’t often been able to participate in the Worlds, given he and the Blackhawks have advanced past the first playoff round in five of the last nine years. In fact, the last time Kane played at the Worlds was in 2008, when Chicago missed the playoffs entirely.

(Kane had 10 points in seven games for the Americans that year, en route to a sixth-place finish.)

Matthews cited fatigue as one of the main reasons he passed on this year’s tourney, and it’s safe to assume Kane did the same. He appeared in all 82 games for the ‘Hawks this year, four more in the playoffs, and also represented the U.S. at the World Cup of Hockey.

USA Hockey did manage to secure the services of two important players last week, however. Both Calgary sniper Johnny Gaudreau and Buffalo sophomore Jack Eichel agreed to come aboard.

Gaborik has procedure for ‘chronic’ knee issue, questionable for camp

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Yesterday, new Kings GM Rob Blake told reporters the club wouldn’t be buying out Marian Gaborik’s contract, because the veteran winger had undergone a medical procedure.

Today, the club shed more light on the situation.

L.A. announced that Gaborik recently underwent an “in-depth medical procedure for a chronic issue related to his left knee,” adding the 35-year-old would be questionable for the start of training camp.

Gaborik’s had left knee problems dating back to 2013, when he was a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. He missed nearly 20 games during the ’13-14 campaign, then had more knee troubles at the tail end of ’15-16 (with the Kings).

Since injured players can’t be bought out of their contracts, Gaborik could very well open the year on LTIR, providing the Kings with some much-needed cap space.

And though Blake said next season would “be a clean slate for Marian to come in and prove himself,” there has to be some question if he’ll return.

Gaborik struggled through this season, scoring just 10 goals in 56 games while missing extensive time with a foot injury suffered at the World Cup. Health issues have dogged him throughout his 17-year career, and he’s only dressed in 110 of 164 games over the last two seasons.

Because of this, his contract has become an albatross. Signed by ex-GM Dean Lombardi, Gaborik’s seven-year, $34.125 million deal still has four years remaining, at a $4.875M cap hit. Gaborik would be 39 by the time the deal expires on July 1, 2021.

In other L.A. injury news, three players also underwent medical procedures recently. Tyler Toffoli and Derek Forbort had knee surgery, while Alec Martinez had “a minor medical procedure for a chronic issue related to his groin.” All three are expected to be ready for camp, however.

Blackhawks’ Anisimov suffered high-ankle sprain in mid-March

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Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov was not himself in the playoffs, and by the fourth game against the Predators his ice time was limited to just 14:18.

It turns out he had a pretty good excuse. Anisimov suffered a high-ankle sprain on March 14 against the Montreal Canadiens, and that’s a tough injury to overcome in less than a month.

Anisimov missed the rest of the regular season with the injury. He returned for the playoffs but failed to register a single point in four losses to Nashville.

“Being away for that time period and coming right back into the playoffs, obviously you’re not as sharp as you want to be,” Anisimov’s agent told the Daily Herald’s John Dietz.