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Lightning supports expected change to hybrid icing

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper looks on with his team from the bench against the St. Louis Blues during preseason hockey at the Amway Center in Orlando Wednesday evening (09/18/13).

DIRK SHADD | Times

Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper looks on with his team from the bench against the St. Louis Blues during preseason hockey at the Amway Center in Orlando Wednesday evening (09/18/13).

SUNRISE — The NHL experimented during the preseason with a rule in which linesmen can whistle icing early if it is clear a defending player will reach the puck first.

Players on Monday likely will vote to approve the rule, known as hybrid icing, for the regular season.

"I like the concept," Lightning D Victor Hedman said. "Especially on those 50-50 pucks, wave it off early instead of having to battle and someone gets tripped and hurt."

Under the current rule, used since 1937, icing occurs when a puck is shot from beyond the center red line and is touched by a defending player after it crosses the goal line but before it is touched by an offensive player.

That can create dashes for the puck that can caused injuries as hard-charging players slam into each other and the end boards. Kurtis Foster, a former Lightning defenseman, broke his left leg in such a race in March 2008 while with the Wild.

Speaking generally, Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said, "The race starts at the blue line, and those guys are barreling in. You're like, 'That wall is not going to move.' "

That is why Cooper said even though as "a purist" he is against the rule change, "it is out of our hands for the simple fact that the players are too big, too strong, too fast, and the rink hasn't gotten any bigger. … If that's a way to keep players from shattering a heel, I'd just rather do the hybrid icing."

BAD HIT: RW Richard Panik said he was just chasing the puck with 3:31 left in the second period of Saturday's preseason finale when he hit Florida D Erik Gudbranson from behind into the corner boards.

Gudbranson was on the ice briefly before skating off under his own power, though he did not return. There was no update on his condition.

"It was a race for the puck, and at the last second he just turned, so I tried to finish my check," said Panik, who received a five-minute boarding penalty. "It was bad luck. I hope he's okay."

INJURIES: D J.P. Cote, the last player in camp without an NHL contract, left in the second period with an upper-body injury. … C Steven Stamkos, who tripped over Panthers G Tim Thomas early in the first period, did not miss a shift but said he expects some back stiffness from the heavy fall.

CHANGING PLACES: Assistant coaches George Gwozdecky and Steve Thomas took turns during the final three preseason games working behind the bench and as an eye in the sky in the press box. It is a rotation that might continue during the regular season. "I like having different perspectives; kind of two different looks, two different insights," Cooper said.

BENCH BOSS: Cooper has spent every preseason game behind the bench, opting for proximity to his players rather than the overview from the press box favored by many coaches. Cooper and his assistants were on the ice for every camp practice, so the coach said moving to the press box did not seem right. Beyond that, "You get a good feel for the guys when you're on the bench. That's a big part of it, how guys act, their demeanor, so you get a good grasp."

CUTS: The 23-man roster likely will be announced today, though it does not have to be given to the league until 3 p.m. Monday.

Lightning supports expected change to hybrid icing 09/28/13 [Last modified: Saturday, September 28, 2013 11:45pm]
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