There seems to be a bit of noise fluttering around the league concerning the current rule on icing the puck, and how it should be changed to no-touch icing. Pardon me while I take the road less traveled and state unequivocally that the rule should be left alone.
Luke, at Lord Stanley's Blog posted an article today with three "no-brainer" reasons why the current rule should go. I agree with Luke more often than not, but this is one subject that I totally disagree with him about. Let's take a closer look at his "no-brainer" reasons and see just how meaningful they are....
1.It would speed up games. The argument that it slows down games because there are more whistles is a canard. More time is wasted watching defensemen skate the length of the ice to touch up and get the whistle.
The reason that it would save time by not having the defensemen skating back to get the puck when it is iced, is also a canard. The linesmen still need to skate and retrieve the puck. Will they skate that much faster than the defensemen? Of course not. Instituting no-touch icing will not save any time.
2.Only two or three times a decade does beating out an icing call actually have an impact on a game.
Really? I remember one Hurricanes game against the Islanders just this year when Cory Stillman fired a rink long pass off the end boards that bounced to Erik Cole who gathered in the perfect pass and beat Rick DiPietro with a surprisng shot. Did that score have impact? That play would have been whistled dead in a no-touch icing scenario.
The Hurricanes have tried that play multiple times, most times without success, but it's still fun to watch. It seems to me that you would be penalizing players for being creative if you eliminate that play and others like it. Heaven forbid hockey players attempt to be creative and try something different.
There have also been several plays where a forward has beaten a defenseman to a puck and it eventually led to a goal, not immediately, but after his team joined the rush. I believe that it also happened against the Canes when Wesley was beaten in a race. That race to the puck is an exciting play and I would miss it if it was eliminated.
3. The potential for injury â€" serious injury â€" far outweighs those rare instances where it makes a difference.
There is potential for injury in every single hockey play, no matter what they do. Should we try to sanitize the game completely in an effort to make sure players don't get injured? For instance, the Hurricanes have lost over 300 man games to injury this year. None of them, that I am aware of, are due to collisions while chasing an iced puck.
If the league was really interested in reducing serious injuries, why not look at how to decrease head injuries? Sure, broken legs and ankles are serious enough, but I would bet that more man games are lost due to concussions than are lost to collisions while chasing an iced puck. Where is the concern about head injuries? Why spend so much time looking at such a small aspect to the serious injury problem, if they truly are concerned about reducing injuries?
Another point is that if they change the rule so that the whistle is automatically blown as soon as the puck crosses the red line, then they should make it a penalty. Right now it's a penalty to intentionally shoot the puck out of the rink. It's technically called "delay of game". If the no-touch icing rule was instituted, then what would be the difference between icing the puck or shooting it out of the rink? Both should be "delay of game" penalties if you wanted to be consistent.
One other thing. The icing rule as it stands now promotes hustle and speed. What would the league be rewarding or promoting if they change that rule?
Just a quick unrelated note, I have had a couple of tips that there is a great article up on ESPN.com by Scott Burnside about the Canes and Eric Staal that is worth a read. Cheers!