During the Preseason the NHL is experimenting with hybrid icing, they experimented with hybrid icing last season in the AHL, as well, while the NHL was locked out, but when the NHL started again it was switched back to touch icing to make the rules in each league the same.
If you listen to the NHL, the reason behind hybrid icing is to help make the game safer for the players, but it does not accomplish that goal in the slightest.
In theory hybrid icing is a great idea and would save players from being injured, but in practice it falls short of that goal and players still have the potential to be injured.
The problem with hybrid icing is that it does not take the close battles for an iced puck out of the game, so players will still be checked from behind or lose their balance and slide into the boards.
When the Detroit Red Wings played the Boston Bruins on September 20th in Boston, Jordin Tootoo was racing against Matt Bartkowski to prevent an icing call and after reaching the puck first, he was promptly boarded by the Bruins’ defenseman.
Bartkowski was given a two minute penalty for boarding and thankfully Tootoo was able stay in the game. Tootoo completed the game, but is now currently hurt and it could have been a result of that hit.
Hybrid icing did not protect Tootoo from being hit and it will not protect other players from that same fate. When two players are rushing towards the puck on delayed icing calls there will be collisions and hybrid icing does not get rid of those collisions and might actually cause them to be more common.
If the NHLPA agrees to the new rule, then the fore-checkers will be skating that much harder to make sure they are in a position to negate a delayed icing and because of that fans could see more violent collisions in the future.
If the NHL really wanted to protect the players they would call every hit from behind on a delayed ice and make it a penalty to recklessly interfere with a player who is about to negate or create an icing call.
There will always be freak accidents in the game and no matter what rule is used during the season they will continue to occur, but penalizing players who are being reckless on a delayed icing is a good step forward to protecting the players.
There is one thing that hybrid icing does do that could make an impact on the game though. Because players do not have to skate back and touch the puck to stop the clock it saves a few seconds, which could end up having a big impact on the rest of the game.
The additional second could mean a tie game rather than a loss or a big regulation win before overtime. If the NHL said that they were heading to hybrid icing for this reason, then I would be behind them 100 percent, but that is not the reason that we have been given.
My opinion is that the NHL and NHLPA should stick with the delayed icing we all know and love, but enforce or create rules to protect the players fighting for the puck.
How do you feel about the hybrid icing rule, should it stay or should it go?