Hybrid Icing Discontinued In The AHL

Icing The Puck
Hybrid Icing No More. Photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson.

The American Hockey League Board of Governors voted today to discontinue the variation of rule 82 which we all know and love simply as hybrid icing.

The definition of the rule is basic, and its intent is obvious. Here is how the league explained it this summer when the NHL asked the minor league to test it for an indefinite time period.

For the purpose of interpretation of the rule, there are two judgments required for “icing the puck”. The Linesman must first determine that the puck will cross the goal line. Once the Linesman determines that the puck will cross the goal line, icing is completed upon the determination as to which player (attacking or defending) would first touch the puck.t Should the puck be shot down the ice in such a manner that it rings around the boards and continues up the side boards, the same procedure shall be in effect in that the Linesman shall determine within a similar distance as to who will have touched the puck first.

I straddled the fence between liking and hating this rule early on in October. Then November rolled around, the NHL hadn’t ended the lockout, and the AHL BoGs extended the rule. I’m pleased to say that it grew on me. My issue with the rule, at first, was that chasing the puck has always been a part of the game. Watching a player ice the puck with no finality seemed awkward. But realizing the intentionality of player protection, and the additional quickened pace that it ushered in, I eventually grew quite lovingly towards the rule. Thus, I’ll hate to see it go.

There were, however, moments where the discretion of the official became murky. Because the rule leaves some wiggle room as to when it’s appropriate for the chase to finish, and there were bound to be a handful of issues. Very little did this happen, but it happened enough to wonder how they could remove the “at the officials discretion” idea out of the picture totally. Then again, the officials did a fantastic job instilling a rule that most had never seen before. For that, they get an A+.

The synchronicity between the AHL and the NHL continues to exist, and thus the board had reasons that were much further reaching than simply “we don’t want to do this anymore”. They wanted players in the minors to experience the same things they would experience in the majors. I get that. I just hope that one day all pro leagues in North America will use this rule tactfully. I think it’s smart. I think it does prevent messy circumstances around the boards. And I can’t envision a reason as to why someone wouldn’t consider it a benefit.

Official Release:

American Hockey League President and Chief Executive Officer David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has voted to discontinue to the current test of AHL Rule 82 (“Icing”), effective Friday, January 18.

“We believe that 564 games has been a sufficient test period for ‘hybrid icing’ and that the application of the rule has been positive for the most part,” said Andrews. “But because we have more than 300 players recalled to the National Hockey League each season, it is our view that these players should have the benefit of a consistent application of the icing rule in both the AHL and NHL.”

“Hybrid icing” will continue to be in effect through Thursday’s games.