NHL adopts hybrid icing rule in interest of player safety

Hybrid icing, which was used on an experimental basis in exhibition games, will be adopted for the upcoming season after it was approved on Monday by the NHL Players’ Assn.

Hybrid icing eliminates potentially dangerous races to the end boards when icing appears imminent. Under the new rule, the linesman must judge whether the offensive player or defensive player would win a race to the faceoff dots and touch the puck first. If the linesman judges that the defensive player would reach the puck first, the play will be blown dead. If the linesman judges that the offensive player would reach the puck first, play will continue.

If the offensive player is clearly ahead and will negate icing, the play will continue. If the defenseman is ahead then the play will be blown dead at that point and icing will be called. If the play is too close to judge when the first player has reached the faceoff dots, icing will be called.

Here’s a link to Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announcing the change, and the wording of the new rule.

Hybrid icing was used in the American Hockey League last season and is used in NCAA play. It is considered safer for players because it eliminates races to the end boards. Several players — most recently Carolina’s Joni Pitkanen — have suffered serious injuries in such races.

“We are hopeful that the implementation of the hybrid icing rule, which is a middle ground between the old rule and no-touch icing, will help minimize the incidence of player injuries on icing plays,” said Mathieu Schneider, the former NHL defenseman who is special assistant to the executive director of the NHL Players’ Assn.


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