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Hockey R&D 2012 Part 1: Gated Icing

For the past few years the NHL has held R&D camps (Research and Development) where they experimented with numerous rule changes and implemented some new ideas for the betterment of the game and the safety of its players. Due to the CBA talks this year, the R&D camp was not held. So I will be posting a few ideas for NHL fans to mull over. Apologies to the geeks hoping for more jersey designs!

Gated Icing Diagram

Figure 1: Those blue arc lines are the “gates” and are used to indicate the entry into the zone behind the goal line.

First up is what I call “Gated Icing”, which addresses player safety and adds some drama to what would normally be a routine icing call.

How it works:

Between the face-off circles and the goal line a couple of arching blue lines would be added to the ice surface (Figure 1). These are called “gates” (working name). In the event of an icing, all skaters would have to skate outside the gates to gain entry into the goal line zone (these gates are only in effect when an icing is indicated).

Gated Icing Diagram

Figure 2: Gated entry of the goal line zone in green, compared to the previously risky direct entry towards the end boards shown in red.

The reason for the gates is to ensure the skaters are moving parallel with the boards. Currently it is hazardous for skaters (especially when competing for the puck) as they are often racing directly towards the end boards behind the net. This can cause ugly collisions which could lead to serious injury.

For the gates players can ‘straddle’ the line as they skate into the end zone – as long as one skate is outside the gate it is a clean entry.

Gated Icing Diagram

Figure 3: Icing plays will now feature strategy and a bit of gambling, as evidenced here

The gates also add a new dynamic to the game, bringing an element of strategy to the act of icing a puck. Now teams might do so in a fashion that would give them the best chance of beating the icing call. For example a team will try to send the puck out of the reach of a D-man favoring one gate (Figure 3.).

The races for the puck would also be quite dramatic if the players entered from opposing gates. I doubt there would be head-on collisions between the players in these instances. The distance between the gates allows the players to see incoming opponents from the opposite corner of the end zone. Players have excellent awareness behind the net.

Goalies might be called upon to bail out their defencemen if they feel the icing call will be beaten.

Additional Rules:

– There should also be automatic icing calls in addition to gated icing. If the icing appears to be uncontested by the team that iced the puck, play is blown dead. Why waste time off the clock and force a poor D-man to hussle back to his own end of the ice?

– As long as the linesman has his arm up for a delayed icing call the gated entry applies for all skaters. If the icing is beaten, then the gates no longer apply, play commences normally.

– If the team that ices the puck fails to use the gate (enters the goal zone improperly), the icing is then called.

– If the defending team enters the goal zone incorrectly, the icing is waved off. So if a defenceman feels he is going to lose the race for the puck, he can disregard the gates but loses the icing call. This flexibility ensures the defending team is not crippled by the gates in their own zone (resulting in some ugly goals for the other team).

Forecast:

I feel that the players would adapt to these gates just as quickly as the goalies were able to adapt to the trapezoids. Icings would require a lot more mental strategy than they do now, with most of the burden on defencemen to decide whether to earn the icing or just gain control of the puck. I feel there would be fewer icing calls, with more icings negated by the offending team or just the D-man/goalie being forced to play the puck.

In the end I feel this gated icing (in combination with automatic icing) would put more emphasis on player safety while at the same time providing a few more tense moments for fans.

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Posted on September 5, 2012, in NHL and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Neat idea. How about calling them “chutes” instead of gates?

  2. Apparently the AHL is trying “hybrd icing” in the upcoming season. The race is to the faceoff dots instead of to the puck.

  3. It’s not a very popular opinion, but in USA Hockey and IIHF (and most other leagues around the world) use no-touch icing, and I think it’s the best option for the NHL as well. Certainly, this eliminates a high-drama aspect of the game, but I think it replaces it adequately with something else: actual hockey. Knowing that you absolutely cannot chase the puck down, you don’t even try to ice the puck often – most icings result from errant passes while breaking out of your own zone or trying to move through the neutral zone and dumps are quite rare.

    The puck stays in play, it removes a dangerous play from the game, and focuses the players on actual control of the puck.

    • The NHL doesn’t like no-touch icing for some reason. I wish I could offer a reason why.

      However I did address uncontested icings which are blown dead right away. I think that is something that could be added.

  4. It’s a nice idea but the NHL won’t go for it. They say they’re interested in player safety but they’re not really that interested. If they were fighting would be gone, hits to the head would be automatic suspensions and there’d be consistency in the rulings by the player safety czar. The NHLPA is no better either.

  5. I like this idea. I’m not a fan of no-touch icing at the pro level (although as a high school sports photographer it has its place to keep the kids safe) because it would take away an exciting strategic element to the game. This idea, however, is amazing.

  1. Pingback: Hockey R&D 2012 Part 2: Smart Benches « Dave's Geeky Hockey

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