Flyers to test hybrid icing for the first time

Flyers to test hybrid icing for the first time

Snider on the job security of Holmgren and Laviolette

September 14, 2013, 2:00 pm
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The NHL is hoping hybrid icing will help avoid violent collisions along the boards. (AP)

If ever the NHL wanted proof that the current icing rule has to yield to the experimental “hybrid icing” that will be used in preseason, just refer to the video of Joni Pitkanen.
 
This week, the Carolina Hurricanes announced that their standout defenseman will miss the entire season and quite possibly never play again, because of an injury suffered last spring on a icing play.
 
He went feet first into the boards against Washington on April 2, trying to win a puck race. The 29-year-old former Flyer shattered his heel bone (calcaneus) into six pieces.
 
His painful rehab didn’t go well this summer and his career is very much in jeopardy, according to general manager Jim Rutherford.
 
The NHL competition committee came up with a hybrid version of icing that was successfully used in the AHL last season.
 
Hybrid icing will be used this preseason, then immediately voted upon for use in the regular season.
 
Here’s the concept:
 
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.
 
This decision by the Linesman will be made the instant the first player reaches the end zone face-off dots with the player’s skate being the determining factor. Should the puck be shot down the ice in such a manner that it travels around the boards and/or back towards the end zone face-off dots, 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.
 
The Flyers will use hybrid icing twice starting this weekend against the Maple Leafs -- Sunday night in London, Ontario, and Monday in Toronto.
 
“We’ve got the video, we’ll talk about it,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Go over it. The league sends it out. They did a nice job explaining it, showing each version of it. Writing down what it was.
 
“We haven’t gone through that  yet because we haven’t had the time with the three-hour rule and the three groups in different times. I think for the game it will be a good opportunity for the coaching staff with each team to put that in place and show.”
 
Laviolette said the one thing he liked about the old icing was the battle for the puck. Yet he also understands that the violent board collisions now often are the result of icings and lead to serious injuries.
 
“You certainly don’t want to see players get injured,” Laviolette. “There has been some bad injuries that happen from it. I think it is worth looking into and exploring.
 
“Nobody wants to see anybody get injured. It’s going to take away some injury at some point if it ends up staying.”
 
The second group of Flyer players and coaches who remain behind for Monday’s game at Wells Fargo Center against Washington also get to see hybrid icing for the first time.
 
Sunday practice
While Saturday's practices were the last open to the public, those Flyers who remain in Philadelphia for Monday's game against the Capitals will practice again Sunday morning. This practice is not open to the public.

The rest of the team will travel to London, Ontario, later Saturday. They will take on the Toronto Maple Leafs Sunday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.

Mites or NHLers?
To end their sessions Saturday (in front of the largest crowd yet), the Flyers played cross-ice games of two-on-two -- the kind of hockey usually reserved for four- and five-year-olds.

The first group's short "games" were led by Scott Hartnell, Max Talbot and Matt Read. Fans seemed to enjoy all of Saturday's drills, cheering when goalies made big saves or players were able to roof pucks up and over them.
 
Players who botched one-on-one drills had to do push-ups on the ice.

Loose pucks
Defenseman Jared Hauf was sent back to Seattle. … Assistant Craig Berube is expected to remain behind and coach the Flyers against his former club, Washington, on Monday. … General manager Paul Holmgren said the roster cutdown will begin after Tuesday.

Sarah Baicker contributed to this story.