11 August 2011

Icing - part of a series on the NHL's RDO tests

A great thing Brendan Shanahan has brought to the NHL is the Research, Development, and Organization camp, where they have players experiment with rule changes and get a real idea of how these things might work in practice.

This summer's edition starts Wednesday, August 17, and there's a whole list that can be found at NHL.com. I'd like to take a few of these in a series of posts.

Today's topic: Icing

The camp will be experimenting with no-touch icing and the hybrid icing (where a linesman can blow the play dead immediately upon crossing the goal line if he believes no player from the offending team has a chance to play the puck).

I dislike the current touch icing for three BIG reasons.

1) Waiting for touch-ups is a waste of time in about 90% of instances

2) The point of calling icing is to punish a team for failing to clear the zone, it just doesn't seem right to give the offending team a chance to reverse that for not being able to clear their zone in the first place

3) Needless injuries from racing to the end board

The hybrid icing addresses the first issue. Instead of a player coasting back to secure and uncontested whistle, those few seconds could be spent in an attacking faceoff. Multiply that by a dozen or so calls per game and that time adds up and that time is spent in more attacking situations (That itself should show a slight increase in scoring, or at least in exiting situations).

But hybrid icing does not address the other two, and won't do anything to prevent the Kurtis Foster-like injuries. Races to the endboard which the linesman deems close will still have to be played to a touch.

Another test has to do with calling icing violations during shorthanded situations.
(This series will have an entry on the other Penalty and Power Play experiments later).

Because I favor attacking faceoffs over puck races, I think this is a good idea in theory, and I am glad they will test it. The big concern over this is that could add a lot of whistles to power plays that might cause more disruption than good for the team on the advantage.

During shorthanded situations, the team that is short rarely contests a puck they dump to the other end, so the team on the advantage usually get to bring it to the neutral zone without being contested. So is that status quo better for the team on a powerplay, than having an attacking faceoff? That is the answer the camp should seek and that I am very curious about.

Next Topic: Overtime

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