Linesmen could become the new fan favourites in the National Hockey League.
If some of the new criteria being applied to icing gets a positive response by general managers at this weeks meetings in Detroit, the waving off of whistles when desperate teams dump the puck will become a welcome sight and the flow of play will be unabated.
"There will probably be a few ideas about no-touch icing -- with qualifications of judgement by a linesman," said NHL vice-president, hockey operations, Mike Murphy.
"Let's say if one forward out-races the defenceman on an attempted pass, or if a defenceman pinches in and lets the puck gets by him ... essentially, you'd like to reward teams for positive up-ice play and trying to create an attack."
There is also some thought by GMs of increasing power-play potential by calling icing on the short-handed teams that dump the puck. NHL penalty kill strategies have become very intricate in recent years and led to the decline in goals. There is already the feeling of some that penalized players do not suffer enough if an early power-play goal frees them from the box and they should be required to sit the whole two minutes, not returning until a stoppage of play, regardless of the man-advantage damage on the scoreboard.
That would serve the dual purpose of increasing offence and discouraging the obstruction that breeds so many minor penalties.