Tag: no-touch icing

Taylor Fedun, Jordan Eberle

Hybrid or no-touch icing or bust: The NHL’s time for change is now


After Edmonton prospect Taylor Fedun broke his fibula taking a spill into the boards in a race for the puck with Minnesota’s Eric Nystrom, the tide of public opinion is changing. TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that it was time to change the methodology. His wasn’t the only opinion going that way either.

Our question here is: Why did it take seeing Fedun breaking his leg in a most grotesque way to change people’s minds on this?

I wrote here during RDO camp this summer how adding either no-touch or hybrid icing was a change that made a world of sense and that it wouldn’t change the fabric of the game. After seeing it used in college hockey last year, hybrid icing makes most sense for those coaches and GMs that fear losing “the race” aspect of icing will make the game “boring” if no-touch icing was the way to go.

Brian Burke supports hybrid or no-touch icing while guys like Edmonton’s own Steve Tambellini didn’t want to lose the speed aspect of the game. Perhaps seeing one of his own players have his season likely ended and his development put on hold for up to a year will change his mind. When something affects you directly your opinion can change fast.

Does it matter whether we see no-touch or hybrid icing though? Is having that race to the end boards worth having another freak accident or, worse yet, seeing a player’s malicious competitive edge come out to win a battle for the puck? Absolutely not.

After seeing Fedun’s injury last night and thinking back to Kurtis Foster, then of the Wild, having the same thing happen to him in a race for an icing call, it’s nonsensical to keep a race for the puck to get an icing call in the game. Icing is what it is and while it’s an important call in regard to where faceoffs occur and puck possession in the zone, it’s not so important we need to run the risk of players getting grossly injured to get the call.

Hockey is a rough and tumble sport as it is without adding this human NASCAR side-show to the festivities. Brendan Shanahan’s job as the head of player safety for the league has to be looking at what happened to Fedun and feeling sick about it. Changes to icing is something the league has looked at now for two years. The time for testing is over, the time for change is upon us.

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

Don Maloney

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.


What they’ll be testing out at this summer’s NHL Research & Development Camp

2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp

While summer can be boring for hockey fans, for those running the NHL August is a fun month of trying things out that could eventually become changes to the sport. The annual Research & Development Camp that happens in Ontario gives NHL leaders the chance to not just look at top prospects for next year’s draft but also to see what rule changes they can implement to improve the game.

At next week’s camp, they’ll be spending two days examining all sorts of different elements to the game both with rules and how technology can be used to better the game for officials as well. They’ll even be testing one rule out that used to exist in the NHL. Hey, give them points for being totally thorough. With Penguins coach Dan Bylsma and Coyotes coach Dave Tippett there to help lead the way in instruction, they’ve got two of the brighter minds in the game helping out as well.

The NHL’s senior vice president of player safety and hockey operations Brendan Shanahan says there’s a method behind their madness when it comes to the rules and regulations they test out as NHL.com’s Dan Rosen found out.

“Whether we’re trying something that is a popular idea or an unpopular idea, all of it is done to just give us more information,”Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations, told NHL.com. “This is all about us being proactive and not reactive. The game has never been better, but we don’t want to rest.”

As for what they’re looking at and testing this year, you can see the full list here but while they’ll be testing out a lot of the same things as they did last year (hybrid icing, no-touch icing) there’s a few new things they’re looking at this year including moving face-offs following an offside into the offending team’s zone, limiting line changes at stoppages in play and removing the trapezoid that restricts goaltenders’ puck-handling.

The last one listed there is the most stunning since that’s just how the NHL used to be. While you’re wondering why they need to test that out, it’s mostly because the game is faster and is played so much differently than it was while the league went without the trapezoid. Adding the trapezoid limits the goalie’s ability to handle the puck behind the net but also prevents us from seeing goalies that are poor at handling the puck away from the net committing awful turnovers that lead to embarrassing goals.

Other rules that will be tested again that make way too much sense to add include:

Using a second verification line in the goal to prove whether or not a puck fully crossed the line
It has no bearing on the flow of play and is needed simply for replay purposes. This is something they should have in place already… Unless on-ice officials would get confused seeing the puck cross the line on close plays.

Hybrid icing
This gives you the best of both worlds on icing plays. If the defending player beats the attacking player on a puck chase to the faceoff circle, icing is called. If not, it’s waved off and they can both pursue the puck as normal. It’s instituted this way in college hockey and works surprisingly well there. If you want to save injuries on puck chases, this is a good way to do it.

Serving full penalties
This is another rule that used to exist more than 20 years ago in the NHL but went away. In this one, a player serving a minor penalty sits for the full time. That way if you commit a dumb penalty and your team is really bad at killing them off, you can get punished badly. Having this coupled with how faceoffs come to the penalized team’s end already could boost scoring.

They’ll also be testing out different technology on the ice as well and these are changes that would make a ton of sense to have implemented already.

  • On-ice officials communication – ref-to-ref wireless
  • Overhead camera – to assist Hockey Operations reviews of various initiatives (verification line/goal netting/in-net camera)
  • In-net camera – mounted camera at one end with one net with camera view focused on the goal line to help verify goals
  • Robotic camera – to test camera angles for coverage closer to ice
  • Video replay application review
  • Curved glass – protection options at players bench areas

Allowing officials to communicate with each other while far apart makes so much sense it hurts. For plays where there’s a goal mouth scrum and the puck is loose is where this would help the most. Anything that makes use of technology to assure whether or not a puck is across the line should be in place regardless. Robotic cameras would be especially helpful for high-sticking calls on goals to see whether or not a player did bat one in wrongly.

How these things test out in practical application will be fun to see the results of. While none of these things are ready to be put in place by the league as of yet, future rule changes can come to rise out of this.