Icing Rule Change Gets Early Heat

The NCAA’s news release — and the story I wrote for the USCHO news section — highlighted the head contact crackdown from the proposed rules changes, but it’s clear from the Twitterverse and on the story’s comments what the real talker is out of the list unveiled today.

It’s what I’m going to call always-on icing. Teams skating shorthanded will no longer be able to send the puck down ice without an icing call if the rule changes are approved next month by the NCAA’s Playing Rules Oversight Panel.

I won’t go through every comment I’ve seen today, but let’s just say that I haven’t seen one in favor of that change yet.

This change isn’t coming out of the blue, however. This is from an USCHO story from last month about the potential changes, with the quotes coming from rules committee chair and Alaska athletic director Forrest Karr:

“The question people always ask is, why is it that you commit some type of infraction and you are actually rewarded and allowed to do something that you aren’t allowed to do normally?” Karr said.

More than half of those surveyed were against a change there, Karr said. But the committee will hear from NHL Central Scouting director E.J. McGuire, who routinely relays what’s likely coming down from the top level in terms of rule changes.

“This would be one where if they’re looking at it and other people around the hockey world are looking at it, that we would look at it, too,” Karr said. “Obviously, that’s a dramatic change.”

In case you’re wondering, Karr, who played goaltender for Notre Dame from 1995 to 1999, is supremely tuned into what goes on in the hockey world. So he gets the benefit of the doubt from this chair.

Apparently, USA Hockey has experimented with the rule, with some success.

“We wanted to see defensemen handle the puck and make plays,” Kevin McLaughlin, USA Hockey’s senior director of youth hockey, told USA Hockey Magazine.

“So far it’s lived up to our expectations by creating better puck-handling defensemen, and more offensive opportunities for the shorthanded team because they’re not able to just fire the puck down the ice when they’re under pressure.”

Maybe it’s an idea worth trying. My initial reaction, however, is that it’s a reach.

Either way, I get the feeling we’ll be talking about this in a little more depth over the next month.