Blue ice, so nice?

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:06 AM ET

If pro hockey is giving you the blues, you ain't seen nothing yet.

The Buffalo Sabres' farm team, the Rochester Americans, is experimenting with a blue ice surface for two games at the Sabres' home at HSBC Arena, with orange bluelines and a blue centre line.

The National Hockey League will be monitoring the results.

VIEWER FRIENDLY?

The 'electric powder blue' hue, designed to cut down on spectator glare and be more viewer-friendly as hockey enters the high definition television era, debuts March 20. Another blue game is scheduled for HSBC on April 3.

"I find after watching a hockey game for hours that my eyes hurt," Larry Quinn, the Sabres' managing partner told The Buffalo News. "I think the glare from the (painted) white ice causes eye fatigue. I think there's a feeling we want to modernize the game. I think there's definitely some fresh air in the league. I think people are open to innovation. I think there's a sense of a new era."

Quinn is correct, in that the NHL has several initiatives underway to lure disgruntled fans back, which began prior to the six-month lockout that claimed the 2004-05 season. Many rule changes, such as no-touch icing and removal of the red line have been discussed. But ice the colour of the sky? And will defencemen become known as orange-liners?

According the News, the idea came to the Sabres from NHL officials who had been discussing matters such as the game's aesthetics with the Reebok sports company last autumn. But Mike Murphy, the NHL's vice-president of hockey operations, said the league's involvement at present is simply as interested observers.

"I've seen the DVD the Sabres sent (hockey operations boss) Colin Campbell of the blue ice," Murphy told the Sun yesterday. "We'll look at their in-house TV feed and either myself or Colin will be in Buffalo for the game.

"At first look, it seems there isn't as much reflection on TV with the blue. I'm not personally in favour of big changes to the game, but if this can improve it, fine. Ultimately it's a decision for (AHL) president Dave Andrews to make."

Blue is said to be more pleasing to the eyes, a shade media experts prefer politicians wear and to be used for background for televised events.

Minor-league teams have used wacky colours like pink for Valentine's Day and green for St. Patrick's Day, but Quinn sees blue as a possible springboard to colour compatible uniforms for his team.

"You're using a blue palette instead of a white palette," Quinn said. "It may mean a return to more colourful jerseys."


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