By Stefan Kubus -
After players from all 30 NHL clubs took a survey on hybrid icing in hopes of either accepting or rejecting it for the 2013-14 season, the verdict is in.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced Monday afternoon on the NHL Network that hybrid icing will indeed make its NHL debut when the season opens on Tuesday.
Essentially, hybrid icing is a safer method than the regular touch-up icing. If the puck is iced and the defender beats the offensive player to the dot in his own zone, the whistle will be blown. However, if the offensive player wins that race to the dot, play will be allowed to continue. It’s all based on a judgment call by the official, but there’s no doubt it will make the game safer.
The NHL tested the new form of icing during all of its preseason games, leading up to this survey vote to decide its fate for the regular season. But Michigan is really no stranger to the rule as the NCAA (since 2010) and USHL (since 2007) both utilize it, giving the sport plenty of exposure to the newest NHL rule in the Mitten prior to its inclusion on Joe Louis Arena ice.
Hybrid icing is being dubbed the “Pitkanen Rule” by some after Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen broke his heel in an icing race last season. Rochester native and former Washington Capital Pat Peake suffered the same fate during an icing race in 1996. Peake fractured his heel in 12 places on the impact and was later forced to retire.
Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said the uncertainty of an icing call now makes it tricky to play with, but that it’s a much safer adjustment.
“We’ve still got to get used to it a little bit, I think,” Zetterberg said. “Some plays you think it’s gonna be icing, it’s not icing, but overall I think it’s better safety for the players to have that, and hopefully it’ll get a little more consistent and it’ll work.”
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock said he agreed with his captain on it being a safer way to settle those dangerous races for the puck.
Zetterberg added that both players and officials will undoubtedly have to endure some growing pains with the new system, but that’s expected.
“I think also, as a player, you’ve got to realize it will be different from game to game. That’s something you’ve got to just accept. A lot of it has to do with the linesmen, what they think is right, so you’ve just got to play until you hear the whistle.”
Wednesday night, when Detroit opens their season at home against Buffalo, will be the first Red Wings game with the new rule officially in place.