No-touch Icing and Other Potential Rule Changes

As general managers from around the NHL meet this week to discuss possible rule changes, the same rule that gets brought up year after year will once again be put on the table. No-touch icing gets brought up every year, and every year possible changes to the rule are suggested. And every year nothing changes.

With the league looking to reduce injuries as the game only continues to get faster, it may finally be time for the league to at least test out the no-touch icing rule.

Listening to pundits and analysts around the league, no one seems to support the icing rule as it currently stands. Yet GMs around the league continue to keep the rule, resulting in an increased chance of injuries while rarely providing scoring chances for a forward who beats out the icing call.

The NHL will finally experiment by introducing the hybrid icing rule. This gives refs discretion in choosing when to call icing. If the ref thinks the offensive player will win the race to the puck the play continues, if not he whistles the play dead.

However, like most NHL analysts point out, this rule change will not make any difference. If the play is still close, the race still continues at a high rate of speed, with both players headed straight towards the end boards. This means that the exact type of plays the NHL wants to eliminate from the game will most likely remain.

If for some reason the league wants to avoid trying out no-touch icing, the league could look into other proposed rule change that could help mitigate the chance of high speed collisions.

For one, the league could end their strange experiment with the trapezoid and let goalies start playing the puck again. Not only would this slow down the game a bit and prevent dangerous races for the puck, but also it would open the up ice a bit by giving the goalies a chance to contribute to the play.

Another possibility would be to reintroduce the two-line pass, or introduce the “Bowman rule.” Proposed by former coach Scotty Bowman, this rule would add a line above at the top of the face circles in either end of the ice (the “ringette line”) and two line passes would not be allowed from before these lines.

It’s time for the NHL to realize that rule changes are not a bad thing, and that there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with new rules, even if they end up getting scrapped after one or two seasons.

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