TORONTO– Toronto Marlies’ captain Ryan Hamilton is optimistic that the changes the AHL are making to the icing rule for the 2012-13 season will keep players safer on the ice.
“It’s a good opportunity to hopefully save some players from injury,” said Hamilton.
Rule 81 (icing) will be altered and a no-touch style of icing will be in effect for the beginning of the upcoming season.
If the defending player is first to reach the end zone play-off dots then play will be blown dead, provided the puck has crossed the goal line at that point. If the offensive player makes it first then play will carry on.
While there is still a race factor involved, instead of going full tilt into the end boards for the puck, a player can let up about 30 feet early and potentially save himself from devastation.
In 2009 Hamilton watched former Marlies’ captain Alex Foster chase down an icing only to break his leg and miss 43 games.
“You don’t want to see that,” said Hamilton
The changes to the icing rule, which were approved by the league’s Board of Governors on June 28th, are only for a trial period and will be used until November 19th. The league will then re-evaluate and decide if they will continue for the remainder of the season. Considering the AHL is experimenting by NHL request, if the change is successful it very well could be implemented in the NHL real soon.
Often the NHL will use the AHL as a tester, like they did with shoots outs and tag-up offside in 2004,
“Both teams have to play by the same rules. Plus it’s something to expect at this level,” said Hamilton about the AHL trying out the change. “It’s always a transition but players will adapt. In 2004, once the players got it the game turned out great.”
With safety being a key reason to experiment with rule changes these days, the trapezoid continues to spark debate.
Defenceman Matt Lashoff also wants to see the trapezoid removed, believing that goalies playing the puck can extend a players career.
He missed 67 games last season with a knee injury that could have been prevented if goaltender Ben Scrivens wasn’t restricted to where on the ice he could play the puck.
Regardless of what the leagues try, there will always be injuries in the game. The goal is to eliminate as many avoidable ones as possible. On November 19th we will find out if the changes to Rule 81 help that.