Will Hybrid Icing Make Its Way to the NHL?

Jan 14, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke mingles with fans and troops after the game on Canadian forces night after playing the New York Rangers at the Air Canada Centre. The Rangers beat the Maple Leafs 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

Rule changes such as the removal of the red-line, the shrinking of the neutral zone and the addition of the trapezoid in the corners below the goal line all helped to make the fastest game on Earth that much faster.

But that increased speed has brought with it increased injuries, most notably, the epidemic of concussions. With the GMs meeting this week in Boca Raton, Fla., the wheels are in motion to institute a hybrid-icing system to help limit collisions during races for the puck during icing calls.

According to Dan Rosen at NHL.com, the discussions are gaining steam this year among the 30 GMs. Of those GMs, 20 must vote in favor of the rule change in order to bring the motion before the Competition Committee. If it passes there, the rule would go before the Board of Governors for approval.

The difference between no-touch icing and hybrid icing is fairly simple. If the forechecker is the first player to the faceoff dots, the icing is waved off; if the defender is the first to the dots, it’s icing and the play is blown dead.

“I think it just takes time,” Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford told NHL.com. Rutherford was one of seven managers that discussed the change that agreed to take it before the rest of the group Tuesday. “People change their opinions on things. I think this was one that was fairly close last year. But it doesn’t mean it’s getting passed. I was just in one small group. It was unanimous in that group. So, you know there are seven votes.”

According to the report, the managers are in favor of the hybrid over no-touch because it keeps the exciting race for the puck in the game.

“We don’t want automatic icing,” Toronto GM Brian Burke said. “They have it in international hockey and it looks awful. The puck gets iced and everyone stands around it looks terrible.

“But the race is too dangerous for the defenseman right now,” added Burke. “I think you can keep the race in, but make it safer for the defenseman.”

Burke is right in the sense the no-touch isn’t easy on the eyes, but isn’t the forechecker now in the same danger the defenseman is currently in? What is going to stop the defenseman from driving the forechecker into the boards?

There isn’t any perfect scenario. The game of hockey appears to have gotten too fast for its own good, and the return of the red-line probably won’t receive enough votes — and that’s a good thing.

A healthy compromise would be hybrid icing and the removal of the trapezoid that prevents goalies from heading into the corners. By doing so, many dangerous track-meet races would be eliminated. Sure it won’t be as entertaining as the race for the puck, but most fans would rather have their star player in the lineup.

Follow Matt on Twitter @MattCalamia

Topics: Brian Burke, Carolina Hurricanes, Jim Rutherford, Toronto Maple Leafs

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