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Hybrid icing approved for regular season

Sep 30, 2013, 5:45 PM EDT

Edmonton Oilers v Minnesota Wild Getty Images

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 “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.”

  1. pirovash88 - Sep 30, 2013 at 5:56 PM

    I honestly didn’t expect this to be approved, it’s a sad day for hockey..

  2. joey4id - Sep 30, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    The NHL and NHLPA are making the game safer every day. Slowly but surely. One day they’ll make the ultimate decision to minimize concussions even more. They will ban fighting.

  3. Stiller43 - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:04 PM


    I do wonder why they couldnt have approved this before the preseason though…

    • noisetheorem - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:31 PM

      They were giving it a test run, playing with the rule through the preseason. Now that everyone has had some practice at it, the NHLPA voted and approved it.

  4. sknut - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:10 PM

    I wonder what the players reservations about this are? If it keeps players safer I am all for it, seeing Foster break his leg and other guys get hurt I am glad they addressed this.

  5. phillyphanatic77 - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    I’m not one for conspiracy theories but I do not understand how this passed. It seemed about 99% of the players asked about hybrid icing deemed it, at the very least, questionable. Most, flat out didn’t like it. And it was no secret. Commentators and hosts across the league relayed the same message: it leaves too much in the hands of the officials. This is just my gut feeling, and I may be way off, but maybe the NHL establishment pushed this rule through no matter what the vote by the players said.

    It just makes no sense otherwise, because I did not hear from ONE player who agreed with its implementation. But most owners and general managers wanted it to cut down on injuries to their valuable commodities. All speculation obviously, but I don’t trust the NHL brass in the least. They’d look you in the eye and tell you the sky the green when it’s visibly blue.

    • greenmtnboy31 - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:24 AM

      Philly – I have no doubt that once the league realizes you personally did not hear from ONE player who agreed with this, then they will scrap it and go back to the suicide run to the end boards.

      This is a no brainer and long overdue.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Oct 1, 2013 at 11:34 AM

        No jack*** but I’ve heard from multiple announcers and commentators that the players hated the rule, and ALL of their opinions were that there would be no way it passes.

  6. ethanmacleod1685 - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:14 PM

    Hockey is not supposed to be safe, don’t you get it. Damn

  7. tcclark - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    This is hockey. Why do we keep watering it down? The race for the puck is one of the most exciting parts of the game. Everytime I saw this in the preseason I was so disappointed. I expect a race for he puck, but now they blow the whistle before they even get to full speed. First Rinaldo gets a game misconduct for a textbook body check, now they’re removing the exciting collisions against the boards where the offensive player beats out the icing call. Might as well start giving figure skaters sticks. Toughness is no longer required.

    • killerpgh - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:31 PM

      If the offensive player gets to the circle first then icing is waived off. So you will still have your race/body check for the puck.

      • avfanforlife - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:44 PM

        @ killer… Refs would call interference a lot though in that circumstance wouldn’t they?

      • tcclark - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:15 PM

        A race to the circle is not the same as a race for the puck. There’s a lot of ice between the circle and the boards. A lot can happen.

  8. matt14gg - Sep 30, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    Such nonsense. People are citing the Kurtis Foster injury, which is nonsense since the Foster injury occurred before the last rule change to no-contact icing. This is hockey and players get hurt. People claiming they are “making the game safer” are full of it. Nothing will ever be 100% safe including this silly rule. A simple race to the puck, with no contact, keeps the competitive aspect intact. Now we’re going to rely on the judgment of the linesman? The game is being ruined and it is people who believe a higher power can legislate 100% safety into all aspects of life that are ruining it. Please let consenting adults play the game and please let consenting adults enjoy the game THE WAY IT WAS MEANT TO BE PLAYED, and go find another sport to ruin.

    It’s also funny how the same people who support silly rule changes like hybrid icing also support removing fighting from the game. Go ahead and see what happens when you remove fighting from the game. Pretty soon you will also remove fans from the game.

    Please leave my sport alone and go enjoy some game where no one gets hurt, and better yet, they don’t keep score. Don’t want anyone to get hurt, feelings included.

    • Moop - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:53 PM

      People who want fighting removed from the game don’t realize that players will start using the next best thing to hit each other with when frustration grows: their sticks. We already saw Phil Kessel try this in the pre-season, and that was just a little love tap. Remove fighting and you’ll see guys taking some nasty swings with the stick.

    • avfanforlife - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:46 PM

      @matt… funny – no score, and all the players get a mini Stanley Cup at the end of the season so they all feel like winners!

  9. matt14gg - Sep 30, 2013 at 7:05 PM

    BTW, in case anyone hasn’t figured it out this was a bag job from the beginning by the NHLPA, in cahoots with the NHL. The union (and every single player agent) will do anything to take danger out of the game, whether individual players support it or not. The same goes for the NHL. The league is well aware of the silly lawsuits in other leagues regarding head injuries which are nothing more than a money grab. It’s in the best interest of the non-hockey people that run the league to take the danger out of it.

    Bottom line, no one likes this rule other than the lawyers and insurance companies.

    Terrible rule change, but certainly not the last one that will diminish competition in the name of “safety”

    • matt14gg - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:27 PM

      To the two people who hated my post, go check out the item that this same website posted about an hour later that confirmed everything I just said. This is about the NHLPA and the league office getting what it wants despite how the players really feel.

      Matthieu Schneider is FOS and he knows it. If the “majority of teams” support the rule make the results of the vote public. He won’t cuz he knows it’s not true and besides, who cares if the “majority of teams” support it, I want to know if the “majority of players” support it. They don’t.

      Oh and for the person who thinks the rule about jerseys being tucked in is more important, wake up, that rule is irrelevant. On the other hand the hybrid icing rule substantively effects the competitive nature of the game.

  10. jpat2424 - Sep 30, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    Not a fan of this.

  11. sjsharks66 - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:02 PM


  12. icrew29 - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    Wrong rule to complain about, complain about the jersey in pants rule. That rule makes absolutely no sense at all.

    • jcmeyer10 - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:44 PM

      Brett Hull should stand up for this too.

  13. zetaone - Sep 30, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    What happens when there are a few seconds left in the game and the team defending a lead ices the puck with 5 seconds left, who is to say WHEN EXACTLY the linesmen will blow the whistle?

    Before it was automatic.. Stick touches puck, whistle blows. Now who knows?

    1 or 2 seconds wins or loses games, and now it’s going to be a judgement call as to when the guy will decide to blow the whistle.

    • killerpgh - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:33 PM

      As long as the defender is the first person to get back the whistle will blow when he gets to the circles in the defensive zone. That is “EXACTLY” when the linesman will blow the play dead. So in theory is will save a second or 2 and there will be more time in the offensives zone as a result.

  14. vbcaps - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:10 PM

    USA today reports there was a poll sent to players and most favored it. So whoever says “it’s a conspiracy and players don’t want it” I guess USA today is lying to me

    • matt14gg - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:37 PM

      Please cite the article where this “poll” appears.

  15. avfanforlife - Sep 30, 2013 at 9:37 PM

    I watched as much pre-season hockey as I could (way to go NHL for the ridiculously low amount of games avail to watch btw), and it seemed to me that there was lots of talk for and lots of talk against by players, announcers, etc…Certainly not enough for one side to outweigh the other and have it become official so quickly. Fortunately, the majority of those “quick whistles” weren’t very close calls and weren’t at all controversial. Unfortunately, I can see the potential for seriously blown calls, and this really does pussify the game to a certain extent. (is pussify a word?)
    If this is going to be a new rule, and I may get a few thumbs down for this, shouldn’t they eliminate that stupid trapezoid and let the goaltender out now?

    • matthewmacisaac - Oct 1, 2013 at 9:43 AM

      I agree with you about the Trapezoid & might I add that if the goalie wanders from the crease to play the puck, he should be fair game (no whining R. Miller). As far as “pussify” being a word, I don’t think it is but it should be. That would have been a better thing to change than the icing rule. Anytime they put more judgement calls into effect, there are more errors.

  16. nicknyhc - Sep 30, 2013 at 10:00 PM

    Here’s an idea:

    Fighting is dangerous so lets implement suspensions for jerseys coming untucked (already done),make visors mandatory for new players (already done), and give out an extra minor penalty for taking your helmet off during a fight (already done), to outlaw fighting in an indirect way without causing too much of an uproar with fans.

    Icing is dangerous so lets implement this new hybrid icing rule.

    A lot of players are injured due to hits, so lets outlaw those as well. Ice is dangerous and contributes to injuries as well so lets move the game outdoors to a grass field. Then lets go ahead and make nets bigger and goalie pads smaller for the sake of increasing scoring.

    THEN we can have all the players tuck their balls between their legs and we can have ridiculously named divisions like the “Metropolitan Division” and change the name of the sport to SOCCER.

    Bettman needs to take a hike…

  17. snipedanglecelly13 - Sep 30, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    Hockey is getting worse with every rule, this rule and jersey tucks

  18. caniac4ever - Oct 1, 2013 at 12:41 AM

    I love the game and my team, but these stupid rules that are being implemented are getting pretty ridiculous. How are all of these new rules becoming official so close to the start of the season? The jersey and removing helmet rule came out of nowhere, and now this hybrid icing rule(no way players voted this in). 12 year old girls with Crosby posters on their walls don’t mind a bit, I’m sure.

  19. fahmundamahbalsaq - Oct 1, 2013 at 6:09 AM

    BREAKING NEWS: The NHL has approved the “Hybrid Fighting” rule.

    Players can drop the gloves but not actually punch each other in the face. A panel of three Canadian celebrity judges will score the fight on several categories and the winning team gets to go to Tim Horton’s after the game for donuts.

  20. greenmtnboy31 - Oct 1, 2013 at 8:28 AM

    As a linesman, we’ve been doing this for several years at the collegiate level and it has taken NOTHING away from the game, while making it much safer for players. It’s a no brainer when you consider the absolute knuckleheads who take a guys skates out and cause him injury by needlessly crashing into the end boards.

  21. macjacmccoy - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:14 AM

    Everyone needs to relax this is a rather innocuous rule change. Its not like taking away checking or or fighting. Their is still a race to the puck. It just takes out the risk of a player getting injured because hes more worried about touching the puck then he is about protecting himself from a head first collision into the boards. Getting hurt is a part of hockey and Im ok with that, but Id rather it happen on a hockey play and not a race. Especially when the race could be made safer by just making the finish line a few yards closer.

    The only concern I have, which is really more of a question then a concern, is what is considered to be a win. Does the Stick count? Like for example if a defenseman’s stick reaches the dot first even though he is behind the offensive player does that still count as a win and an icing? Or does it have to be a body part? If it has to be a body part does sticking your arm out count, or is it more a central mass thing?

    Im sure the officials have be briefed on what is considered a win and what isnt, but my problem with this whole thing is that the NHL hasn’t done a good job of making the answers to these concerns readily available enough.

    It seems rushed, and that’s probably because it was. They should have either waited to implement the rule change till next season, so everyone could be up to speed on the nuances of the rule, or they should have done a better job of getting the information out.

    The way this has all unfolded is going to lead to a lot of confusion and hand wringing to start the year. There’s going to be a lot of sound bites and quotes of coaches, players, and fans wondering why their team had an icing go against them when their player’s stick or hand got to the dot first.

    If the NHL and its owners just used a little forethought before haphazardly implementing a rule change, all the soon to be confusion and discontent could have been avoided.

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