Among the ideas that were tested at the NHL’s Research, Development and Orientation Camp in Toronto Wednesday, hybrid icing seemed to be the biggest hit.
Hybrid icing is a mix of regular icing and no-touch icing.
Here’s the league’s description of hybrid icing, which is used by the United States Hockey League:
During a potential icing, the linesman, by the time the first man reaches the face off dot, will determine which player would reach the puck first. If it is determined to be the attacking player, icing is waved off. If it is the defending player, icing is blown immediately. (Tie goes to the defender) It basically enables on-ice officials to whistle the play dead avoiding a dangerous collision at the end boards.
“I am strong believer [in hybrid icing] from what I saw today,” former Stars coach Ken Hitchcock told the NHL Network. “It doesn’t look any different from icing, but it is a lot safer for the players.”
None of the ideas being tested at the camp is expected to be implemented this coming season, but hybrid icing is one that could come into play down the road.
There was an adjustment to faceoffs as well. Instead of the linesman dropping the puck for the faceoff, the puck was put on the ice and the faceoff commenced on the sound of whistle. The goal is restore "fairness and integrity" to faceoffs.
Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk, an excellent faceoff man in his playing days, said something needs to be done about faceoffs but he wasn’t completely sold on what he saw Wednesday.
“It’s frustrating for the linesmen and it’s frustrating for the fans when one guy doesn’t go in there right away and he tries to time it, there’s an unfair advantage,” Nieuwendyk said on NHL.com. “It definitely takes the advantage away. I would like to see it tweaked a little bit more. There’s something special about a faceoff and the battle created there. There doesn’t seem to be much of a battle within this faceoff. It just seems to be push the puck out and the play goes on. I like the battle part of it, but I like what they are doing in taking the advantage away for somebody.”
The camp continues Thursday. The league has a nice breakdown of all the ideas with descriptions and the rationale behind each. You can find that here.
The league’s official site has a special section on the camp here.
If you go to the NHL video area and click on the “Just Added” tab, there’s a lot of video of the camp, some of the ideas in action and interviews with league officials, general managers and others.