The players have spoken, and hybrid icing will be utilized in the NHL in the upcoming 2013-14 regular season.
The rule was approved by the Players’ Association on Monday after it was used in an experimental basis during the preseason.
Hybrid icing is designed to avoid heavy collisions into the end boards – which resulted in a broken heel bone for Joni Pitkanen, who is sidelined for the entire 2013-14 season – while still allowing a forward to get to the puck first and keep the play alive.
With hybrid icing, the linesman blows the play dead for icing if the defender is leading or tied with the attacker at the faceoff dot in his own zone. Should the attacker lead the race or be judged to be in best position to touch the puck first (like on a hard rim around the boards), play continues as designed under touch icing.
Polled last week, the Hurricanes’ dressing room gave mixed reviews to hybrid icing, but the consensus – that appears to have been shared by the Players’ Association – is that the desire for increased player safety outpaces concerns over implementation and regulation.
And that’s exactly how it should be.
An exact, official wording of the rule is below:
Rule 81.1 – Icing: For the purpose of this rule, the center red line will divide the ice into halves. Should any player of a team, equal or superior in numerical strength (power-play) to the opposing team, shoot, bat or deflect the puck from his own half of the ice beyond the goal line of the opposing team, play shall be stopped. For the purpose of deflected pucks, this only applies when the puck was originally propelled down the ice by the offending team.
For the purpose of this rule, the point of last contact with the puck by the team in possession shall be used to determine whether icing has occurred or not. As such, the team in possession must “gain the line” in order for the icing to be nullified. “Gaining the line” shall mean that the puck, while on the player’s stick (not the player’s skate) must make contact with the center red line in order to nullify a potential icing.
For the purpose of interpretation of the rule, there are two judgments required for "icing the puck". The Linesman must first determine that the puck will cross the goal line. Once the Linesman determines that the puck will cross the goal line, icing is completed upon the determination as to which player (attacking or defending) would first touch the puck. This decision by the Linesman will be made the instant the first player reaches the end zone face-off dots with the player's skate being the determining factor. Should the puck be shot down the ice in such a manner that it travels around the boards and/or back towards the end zone face-off dots, the same procedure shall be in effect in that the Linesman shall determine within a similar distance as to who will have touched the puck first."
For clarification, the determining factor is which player would first touch the puck, not which player would first reach the end zone face-off dots.
If the race for the puck is too close to determine by the time the first Player reaches the end zone face-off dots, icing shall be called.
The puck striking or deflecting off an official does not automatically nullify a potential icing.