Russell Lansford/Icon SMI)
One of the main topics that the NHL has been dealing with over the last few seasons is the league’s icing rule – a rule that now sees change in the winds, and two of the Northwest Division’s defensemen couldn’t be happier about that.
Both Kurtis Foster of the Minnesota Wild and Taylor Fedun of the Edmonton Oilers have had their own experiences with the downside of touch icing.
Foster’s came in 2008 when he broke his femur after being pushed from behind by San Jose Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell in March of that year in San Jose. Foster missed nearly a year with the injury and has experienced complications with the screws in his leg since then.
Fedun’s was more recent – in this season’s training camp – when his femur was broken in a similar fashion in a race for the puck with Eric Nystrom, then with the Minnesota Wild. The Oilers’ rookie defenseman has just recently started skating again and hopes to be ready for next fall’s training camp.
Not surprisingly, both have been fairly outspoken in their support of the rule.
“It’s one of those rules that not just me, but a lot of guys think isn’t needed in the game,” Foster told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in regards to touch icing, while Fedun told the Oilers’ team website, “Having experienced that rule in college, hybrid has all the elements that touch-icing has, yet it takes out the dangerous elements of collisions along the boards.”
Under the current rules, icing can be waved off if a player from the team that ices the puck can be the first to touch the puck once it crosses the goal line. The proposed icing, however, would end the race at the faceoff dots, meaning less chance for collisions like those that injured Fedun and Foster.
Nothing is set in stone, of course, but this is a decision that has been years in the making – six years, to be exact – but it’s one that is long overdue, especially with the way the game has changed since the lockout.
“I guess it takes a long time for anything to change. I’m just glad it happened now,” Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini told reporters at the meetings. “With the game opening up, the speed, the decisions have to be made quicker. The speed of the race, things are just happening at a much higher tempo than they were five, ten years ago.”
There are still hurdles for the rule to clear. In order to be passed, it must be approved by two-thirds of the league’s competition committee and board of governors before it becomes league canon and, even then, there are still discussions to be had before it even reaches that point. Even with hurdles to clear, though, it is an encouraging sign that the discussion has even reached this point.
“I find it hard to see where the argument to keep touch-icing is, when you have such a worthy alternative” Fedun said in his interview with the Oilers’ website. “I’m pretty excited and, hopefully, it goes through.”
Should the rule go through, it could be implemented as early as next season, and that’s promising news for more than just Fedun and Foster, who can attest first hand to the necessity of a change.
“I’m lucky I’m still playing in the NHL,” Foster also told the Star Tribune. “It’s not going the way I want right now here, but I still get to come to the rink every day. To go through what I went through and still be here, I consider myself lucky.”
Hopefully, the addition of hybrid icing to the NHL Rulebook will save more players from having to share the same sentiment.
Northwest Division Notebook
The Calgary Flames assigned Krys Kolanos to the Abbotsford Heat on Tuesday. Kolanos has played 13 games for Calgary this season, tallying one assist. … The Minnesota Wild had a backup plan in case Josh Harding was unable to back up Matthew Hackett in Sunday’s loss to the Calgary Flames. That backup plan was Alaska Fairbanks senior goalie Scott Greenham.