NHL to implement hybrid icing next season if trial period goes well

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Hybrid icing — a mixture of touch and no-touch icing that gives discretion to linesmen — could be implemented for the 2013-14 NHL season.

On Wednesday, NHLPA special assistant Mathieu Schneider told reporters if the preseason hybrid icing test goes well, the league is prepared to implement it for regular season play.

This marks the first significant development from the current GM Meetings in Boston.

While this is a big step forward for the hybrid icing movement,  it appears several issues still need to be worked out — specifically, how it’ll be officiated.

Courtesy NHL.com, here’s the official explanation of the rule:

Hybrid icing is a mixture of touch and no-touch icing. It gives a linesman the discretion to blow his whistle and stop the play if he believes a defending player will reach the puck first.

If the linesman believes the attacking player has a chance to reach the puck first, he keeps his whistle in his pocket and lets the race to the puck play out.

The linesman always will side with the defending player and blow his whistle if he feels the race is a tie by the time the players reach the faceoff dots.

It may not end up being “just [a] race to the dot,” as per Yahoo’s Nick Cotsonika. There’s also some question as to how much discretion linesmen will have when it comes to blowing whistles.

As for the timing of possible implementation, NHLPA board will vote on hybrid icing towards the end of the 2013 exhibition campaign.

If it passes, it then goes to the NHL Board of Governors. If that passes, hybrid icing is in for 2013-14.

As for other developments from the meeting:

— To nobody’s surprise, GM’s approved mandatory visors for players coming into the league.

— Diving/embellishment was discussed. The plan is to keep working on solutions (Schneider said it was tough to legislate because of all the “gray” area).

— The possibility of posting diving offenders’ names in dressing rooms was brought up.

— Sub-committees for equipment regulation are still a few weeks away from being formed.