March 13, 2012
'Ringette line' to be tested by AHL
By Chris Stevenson, QMI Agency
NHL general managers have no stomach to bring back the red line for two-line passes, but they might have another line painted on the ice.
The GMs are recommending the American Hockey League test out the so-called ringette line across the top of the face-off circles in each zone. A player would have to cross that line before he would be allowed to attempt a pass to the far blue line.
A player would only be allowed to pass up to the centre red line if he was below the ringette line.
The thinking is that would force defencemen to handle the puck more and increase the skill level in the game. It would also cut down on that unimaginative play where the puck is fired up the ice to a waiting forward at the far blue line who just tips the puck into the offensive zone.
"We have too many young defencemen who are just hammering the puck up the wall," said Toronto Maple Leafs president and general manager Brian Burke.
AHL president Dave Andrews, who is attending these meetings, said his league would be open to the idea of testing it out.
"If this group of NHL GMs thinks this is worth trying, then I don't have a problem with it," he said. "I don't think there will be a problem trying it."
Hybrid icing is going to be forwarded to the NHL's competition committee for approval after some crafting of the language. The rule would see the play whistled dead on a potential icing call if the defenceman is ahead of the forward, or the two are even, when they reach the face-off dot. If the attacking player was ahead at that point, the play would continue.
The hope is the rule would eliminate most of the dangerous jockeying for position as the players hurtle into the endboards in a fight to touch the puck first.
"It looks like there is a strong will to go ahead with that except that like any rule change, it's easy to have these ideas and try to push them forward. When it comes time to actually write up the rules and think of all the situations and all the scenarios that could happen on the ice and make it clear enough so that we can give our on-ice officials the proper direction, there's a lot of work to do," said Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier. "I think that's where we're at. I think it's going to go forward, at least as a recommendation to the governors. But there's some cleaning up to do as to exactly how it's going to work."