One of the biggest debates in hockey has to do with the league adopting hybrid icing. While the topic has been placed on the back burner for an undisclosed period of time, a play that occurred Tuesday night may have put it back front and center.
During Tuesday night’s game with the Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen was charging back into his defensive zone with Washington forward Troy Brouwer to touch up for an icing call. As Pitkanen was about to touch the puck, he went to stop and lost his footing. He slammed his leg and ankle into the boards, severely injuring himself on the play.
Team doctors rushed out to aid Pitkanen, but ultimately he had to be wheeled out on a stretcher. After the game, TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted an update with regards to Pitkanen’s injury:
Brutal news out of Carolina. Pitkanen's ankle injury will end his season. Expected to be out 3 months. #TSN
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) April 3, 2013
This injury caused social media to be in an uproar over the current icing rules in effect. Most levels of hockey have adopted some sort of icing policy, whether it’s no-touch icing or hybrid icing. While the AHL tested hybrid icing this past year, it discontinued the practice back in January after a 564-game test period. Sooner than later, if the National Hockey League — and especially its Department of Player Safety — wants to be taken seriously as a sports league which is on the cutting edge of protecting its players while maintaining the integrity of its sport, then it must get serious on resolving this issue.
While no contact sport will ever be completely injury-free, steps can be taken to insure all athletes are as safe as they can possibly be.