The safety and health of players is one of the keys to the continued growth of the National Hockey League.
Needless collisions that result in injuries and head shots have to be eliminated if the game is going to continue to thrive.
One of the issues that the NHL has looked at to make the game safer is the institution of the hybrid icing rule. Instead of allowing players to race at full speed to the end board to see if the defending team will touch the puck first and get an icing call, the NHL has been studying an alternative of shortening the race in order to prevent potential injuries.
Imagine a line drawn across the ice that bisects the faceoff circles next to either goalie. As the puck is sent past the end line, a player from the team that shot the puck is joined by a player from the defending team.
If the defending player crosses that imaginary line at the same time or before the player from the team that has shot the puck down ice, the linesman blows his whistle and icing is called. If the other player is leading the race, the linesman does not blow his whistle and play continues.
This is called hybrid icing and it was supported at the general managers' meetings last March in Boca Raton, Fla., by a seven-member breakout committee (source: NHL.com).
That same committee, which included Chicago's Stan Bowman, Toronto's Brian Burke and Florida's Dale Tallon, thumbed its nose at no-touch icing that is prevalent in European hockey and in many international competitions.
Whether the league opts for hybrid or no-touch icing, it will be very valuable for player safety. It will eliminate the collisions and by-play—elbows and stick work—that can lead to significant injuries.
Nashville General Manager, David Poile, was not part of the breakout committee, but he believes that the institution of no-touch or hybrid icing rules will keep players from getting hurt. Poile told Josh Cooper of the Tennesseean (through Predator Insider):
Again, there’s a school of thought, which I can’t argue with, there are races that turn scoring opportunities if not goals. I think they’re too few and far between[...]We can take away the risk of injury if we put that in. To me it’s gaining a little bit of momentum. Whether it’s sufficient to be passed this year? I don’t know until I get down there.
This is an issue that needs to go through the competition committee before the league's general managers can vote on it and put it into use. However, it's an idea that should be put into use in order to keep players healthy and prevent the onslaught of concussions.