Yesterday’s news of the NCAA rules committees’ recommended changes for ice hockey was met with outrage by NCAA hockey coaches over one particular rule change—”always-on icing.”
Under this proposed change, a shorthanded team would not be able to ice the puck freely. While this change might sound small to the casual observer, it could have a huge impact on many aspects of the game, from killing the flow of the game (imagine a team icing the puck ten times during a major or minor penalty), killing the legs of the penalty killers (the team who ices the puck cannot change lines and having to do a soft clear might not give you enough time to safely change on the fly), and even perhaps on recruiting. None of the the NHL, AHL, ECHL, Canadian major junior hockey, or any league has implemented such a drastic change, and potential recruits might opt for routes other than college hockey feeling this change won’t help their development.
Needless to say outrage has ranged from coaches to fans of the sport. According to the Grand Folks Herald, during the April coaches meeting the coaches resoundingly voted down the idea. Every coach in the WCHA, CCHA, and Atlantic Hockey Conference voted against it.
“I think it’s just a crime,” Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore said. “I’ve been in college hockey for 18 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in my life. It was almost unanimous for the entire coaching body. How can the committee overturn the entire coaching body? I think it’s sad, the lack of respect that the committee had for the coaching body.
“We didn’t spend any time even talking about it because it was so radical. We just voted 12-0 and moved on.”
North Dakota coach Dave Haskol is also strongly against this change.
“It’s quite a shock,” Hakstol said. “I haven’t said much, but I’m going to speak my mind on this. I’m upset about us not having a say in it as a Division I coaching body. On a national basis, we were very strongly against it, if not unanimously against it.
“I’d be in favor of having some language that would allow us to experiment with a couple things in exhibition games. I’d like to be able to make some more educated decisions. But we haven’t tried these rules. They’ve never been tried at a high level. And if this change is made, it’s a two-year commitment.”
That last part nails it. College hockey has experimented with different rules in exhibition games, but “always-on icing” is something that they have only tried at USA Hockey player development camps. How they can make such a major shift in the way the game is played based off a few camps is beyond me. I mean, this committee wouldn’t yet endorse allowing players the option to wear half shields saying they need more scientific data, yet they will go ahead and give the green light to this based off a few camps? That is insane! And once it’s set in stone, the rule cannot be changed for two years.
The proposed changes still need to be given approval by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel in July, however more times than not it’s just a rubber stamp process. Heck, none of the 12 member PROP panel are even involved in hockey. It will be interesting to see if the coaches fighting this can get the panel to deny this change. If the PROP panel has any sense, they will listen to the coaches and not the rules committee who suggested this idiotic change.