Hybrid icing has been approved for the 2013-14 season, deputy commissioner Bill Daly confirmed today on NHL Live.
The new rule, which was being applied on a tryout basis during the preseason, had drawn mixed reviews from players. Ultimately, though, enough of them liked it for the NHLPA to give it the thumbs up.
In hybrid icing, the linesman blows the play dead and calls icing immediately if the defending player is leading or tied in the race to the faceoff dots in his defensive zone. The object is to try at all costs to avoid the nasty collisions into the end boards that have led to serious injuries to a number of NHL players, including Kurtis Foster and most recently Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who will miss the entire 2013-14 season.
Now that the rule has been approved, the pressure will be on the linesman to make the correct judgment calls.
NHL Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom doesn’t think that will be a problem though.
“I think for our guys, they’ll be able to handle it easily,” Walkom told NHL.com. “They have to think about two things: player safety and the race for the puck. There is no attainable pass anymore, so they don’t have to worry about that.
“When the puck leaves they have to focus on offside, which will be a rarity when the puck is shot from behind the red line. And [with hybrid icing] they won’t have to skate as far into the end to make their decision. Before they would have to pursue the puck to the end to make sure who touched it, but now they have to skate less distance and make a judgment quicker.”