Hybrid or no-touch icing or bust: The NHL’s time for change is now
After Edmonton prospect Taylor Fedun broke his fibula taking a spill into the boards in a race for the puck with Minnesota’s Eric Nystrom, the tide of public opinion is changing. TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that it was time to change the methodology. His wasn’t the only opinion going that way either.
Our question here is: Why did it take seeing Fedun breaking his leg in a most grotesque way to change people’s minds on this?
I wrote here during RDO camp this summer how adding either no-touch or hybrid icing was a change that made a world of sense and that it wouldn’t change the fabric of the game. After seeing it used in college hockey last year, hybrid icing makes most sense for those coaches and GMs that fear losing “the race” aspect of icing will make the game “boring” if no-touch icing was the way to go.
Brian Burke supports hybrid or no-touch icing while guys like Edmonton’s own Steve Tambellini didn’t want to lose the speed aspect of the game. Perhaps seeing one of his own players have his season likely ended and his development put on hold for up to a year will change his mind. When something affects you directly your opinion can change fast.
Does it matter whether we see no-touch or hybrid icing though? Is having that race to the end boards worth having another freak accident or, worse yet, seeing a player’s malicious competitive edge come out to win a battle for the puck? Absolutely not.
After seeing Fedun’s injury last night and thinking back to Kurtis Foster, then of the Wild, having the same thing happen to him in a race for an icing call, it’s nonsensical to keep a race for the puck to get an icing call in the game. Icing is what it is and while it’s an important call in regard to where faceoffs occur and puck possession in the zone, it’s not so important we need to run the risk of players getting grossly injured to get the call.
Hockey is a rough and tumble sport as it is without adding this human NASCAR side-show to the festivities. Brendan Shanahan’s job as the head of player safety for the league has to be looking at what happened to Fedun and feeling sick about it. Changes to icing is something the league has looked at now for two years. The time for testing is over, the time for change is upon us.