Don Cherry may finally get his wish.
Seven NHL general managers who discussed a change to the icing rule on Monday at their semi-annual meetings came away in unanimous agreement that the league should move to the type of hybrid icing now used in the NCAA and USHL.
The rule will now go to all 30 general managers over the course of the next two days and will need the support of two-thirds of them in order to be sent to the competition committee.
That should be music to the ears of Cherry, the Hockey Night in Canada icon, as he has long pushed for the NHL to make icing plays safer by modifying the rules.
The version of hybrid icing under consideration would involve officials making a judgment call based on players racing to the faceoff dot or hashmarks as opposed to the puck itself.
“I’ve put that on [the agenda]for five years now, so I hope that passes,” Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke said of the rule. “The race for an icing now is too dangerous for a defenceman. I think you can keep the race in, but make it safer for the defenceman... To me, we keep the chase, we keep the fan interest in it, but we make it safe for the defenceman.”
“To me it seems almost like there’s no reason that it wouldn’t be supported,” Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said. “We’re going to have a bigger discussion with the group, but just in our small group, it was unanimous support for that. We’ll see if there’s maybe something we’re missing when we bring it to the bigger group.”
Also part of Monday’s discussions were a presentation from NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on player safety, and the decision by a group of GMs that hand passes should be penalized.
Burke, meanwhile, was disappointed two of his rule proposals were shot down by his colleagues: the so-called bear hug rule and preventing delay of game calls for pucks over the glass from creating 5-on-3 advantages.
“Bear hug had no support - no chance,” Burke said. “I got dirt kicked in my face again... [the delay of game change]had no support. Like many things I propose at these things.”