NHL general managers have agreed to implement a new hybrid-icing rule starting next season. This new variation on the icing rule is theorized to minimize/prevent those injuries players suffer when speeding down the ice, racing to touch up on an icing call.
This rule makes sense, as a majority of injuries and major penalties are occurring behind the net. Skaters’ own momentum, alongside a bodycheck from another player, cause high-velocity crashes into the boards and the new hybrid-icing will keep the race for the puck in the game but move it away from the boards. The Hockey Dekely supports any rule change that improves upon player safety, but we here also feel another change could be implemented to keep players safe.
The trapezoid area behind a team’s net was put into place after the lockout. It’s there to limit the amount of stick-handling that a goalie (specifically Martin Brodeur) can perform. It was implemented with the argument that defenseman would then have to race back for the puck as opposed to just having the goaltender shoot it back up to their teammates. Furthermore, a goalie caught stick-handling outside of the restricted area receives a two-minute minor penalty for delay of game.
The trapezoid, however, is a major factor in injuries to defenseman. If the goalie cannot play the puck, the defenseman is forced to race back, usually with an opposing forechecker hot on his heels. By allowing a goaltender full freedom to play the puck, the races to the boards would be greatly minimized.
Add to this the fact that the new hybrid-icing concept is based around the widely unpopular no-touch icing rule. NHL general managers have made their distaste for no-touch icing no secret as the consensus seems to be that it takes the skill out of the game. Eliminating the trapezoid keeps the skill in the game and opens up the flow. It encourages increases of speed from the skaters and improved stickhandling from the goaltenders.
Let’s face it – the trapezoid plays to less-skilled goalies. Goaltenders who aren’t well-rounded with a good stickhandling game are still considered among the elite because they’re weaker abilities are never exposed.
Furthermore, unlike no-touch icing, removal of the trapezoid adds speed to the game – it doesn’t take it away. The general managers seem to be fond of keeping the ringuette line out of the game, allowing for large up-ice passes leading to speedy breakaways. No trapezoid means goaltenders can contribute to such exciting scoring chances.
With the trapezoid pulled out of the game, skater safety is bound to improve while the excitement and rate of play will greatly increase.