There will be plenty of changes in store for NHL players entering this season. The new four conference alignment and revamped playoff forma are sure to shake things up a bit, and every new player introduced to the NHL will be required to wear a protective visor moving forward.
One change that still hasn’t been decided upon yet is the hybrid icing system designed to avoid injuries to defensemen getting lined up and crushed as they leave themselves vulnerable retrieving pucks behind their own net. Hybrid icing is defined as a mixture of touch and no-touch icing. It gives a linesman the discretion to blow his whistle and stop the play if he believes a defending player will reach the puck first. If the linesman believes the attacking player has a chance to reach the puck first, he keeps his whistle in his pocket and lets the race to the puck play out. The linesman always will side with the defending player and blow his whistle if he feels the race is a tie by the time the players reach the faceoff dots.
The NHL will implement hybrid icing for all of the 2013 preseason games prior to the season’s open in October, and it could be adopted immediately for the 2013-14 season if the trial period works out well.
“For coaches, I think [the hybrid icing] is a bit of a mixed feeling. We’re very supportive of it when it comes to the safety of the players,” said Claude Julien. “I think what it does sometimes is take away some of the plays [you can make]. You’ve seen us use at time before, right from inside our blue line we’d rim the puck in and had our fore check just to get the puck in deep.
“So that kind of, probably will, take that away and be an automatic icing by the time the puck got passed the goal line, nobody would be close to it. There are some things that you lose out of that, but at the same time I think right now we’re looking at the safety of players. From what I hear, the General Mangers are really in favor of it and really support it. I guess the players will get to see it first and see how they feel about it.”
The Bruins haven’t lost too many players to injuries over the years based on an icing play gone horribly wrong, but one would expect they’ll be closely monitoring the “hybrid icing” rule once the puck drops Monday night against the Canadians.