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NHL moving forward with hybrid icing, Bowman rule

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NEWARK, N.J. — The NHL will attempt to test hybrid icing and the Bowman rule (ringette line) with the help of the AHL next season.

The league's GMs met in Manhattan on Wednesday and came out with two rule changes they want to have a longer look at before considering them for the NHL.

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Hybrid icing, which involves linesmen making a judgement call at the faceoff dots rather than the endboards, and the Bowman rule, which forces players to reach the faceoff dots before being able to make a pass over the red-line, will both be taken to AHL president Dave Andrews to see if his league will conduct testing during its next season.

"It's nice to watch it somewhere to see how it affects the game. Nine out of 10 icings, players are trying to touch the puck and not looking to run one another into the boards. So that has changed. I personally have watched hybrid in college and the USHL recently and I thought it worked fine. I don't think it had any negative impact on the game," said Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman. "I think it's a good compromise as we're trying to prevent injuries so we're trying to change the current icing rule. I think no-touch is awful, so I think the hybrid is a good compromise."

There appeared to be consensus coming out of the GM meetings in Florida this winter to bring hybrid icing into the NHL for the 2012-13 season. But that movement lost traction.

"We discussed a lot of things in respect to the things we talked about in the Florida meetings and the opportunity to meet as a group always lends to good discussion and sometimes over the course of time you've had a chance to think about and watch and see certain things come into play," said Winnipeg Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.

Canucks GM Mike Gillis doesn't like the idea of hybrid icing.

"I don't want the rule. It's going to look a lot like what they have in the NCAA and USHL where the linesmen will make the determination at the dot who would have won the race and icing will be awarded or not awarded," he said. "(I don't like the rule) because I think the players are reacting to the safety issues of a chase into the endboards on an icing play and they're adjusting their play around it. If the suspensions are severe enough, they will continue to adjust."

Cheveldayoff, who was a GM in the AHL for several years with the Chicago Wolves, likes the idea of testing in that league but says it's up to Andrews and his owners.

"Until you see it in its actual practical application, that's when you can make the truest from of evaluation," said Cheveldayoff. "The AHL is a good professional league and we're always looking at the NHL level to find ways to improve the game. In my experience in the AHL, they're always looking to be a good partner and do things for the greater good of the game. They want to uphold the integrity of the game and advance the game. Many, many times, the things we see now in the NHL, like no changing players on an icing call — a lot of them had their genesis at the AHL level."

The idea of carryover penalties in the playoffs was also discussed.

Red Wings GM Ken Holland says the concept of making a player conclude a penalty in the next game of a series if not expired in a previous game needs a longer look.

"We'd like to further discuss it. Obviously it's radical to take a penalty from one game and carry it over to the next one," said Holland. "If it's not worthy of a suspension but if it's obvious that there's message sending going on, should a minor or major push from one game to the next one within a playoff series?"

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

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