Just one day before the start of the regular season, the NHL announced that hybrid icing will be included as a new rule this year. Way to give some heads up, guys.
Regardless of the questionable individuals who run the NHL and make these last second decisions, hybrid icing is a good idea on paper but will not work in the NHL.
For those who are unaware of what hybrid icing is, it is the combination of the NHL’s regular touch icing rule with the automatic icing rule used in Europe, as well as some other leagues overseas. Now with this combination comes hybrid icing, which means the linesman has to judge whether the defensive player or offensive player will touch the puck first. If it is the defensive player then automatic icing will be enforced, but if it is the offensive player then no whistle will be blown and the old touch up icing negation will take effect. Now if both the defensive and offensive players are skating neck and neck, the rule is whoever touches the face-off dot first will determine if the whistle should be blown or not. If it is the defensive player then the whistle is blown; if it is the offensive player then no whistle.
I understand the reasoning for the NHL wanting hybrid icing, since over the past few years the NHL has had a record amount of player concussions and wants to limit players going full speed into the boards in order to touch the puck, either to grant or negate icing, and be subject to serious head injuries as a result. I understand that and I am all for player safety. However, I do not think this idea will work in the NHL as it will cause too much controversy.
As we all know, hockey is a fast moving sport, and as the years go by, technology gets better and the players get faster. Unfortunately for linesman and referees their eyesight only gets worse as the years go by. I can already see a lot of games being determined by a controversial icing or non-icing ruling due to horrendously bad calls by officials.
Regardless of hybrid icing, you will still see a lot of concussions suffered this year by players because I believe most concussions happen on open ice hits and checks from behind during board play than actual touching up for icing. Plus I think the NHL needs to have better head gear as well, which is the case some Hall of Fame players like Mark Messier are making. So while I do like the rule of hybrid icing, I do not see it being executed properly, as I have lost faith over the years of NHL referees and linesman to get the call right on the ice. I believe this rule will just be another factor that will change the outcome of games more than it will actually protect their players.