by The Net Noodler
Hey loyal fans,
I was asked to do this piece and tried to refrain from addressing the situation as long as possible; however, due to the nature of the issue I can refrain no longer. It is known that there have been recent changes to the rules regarding icing and at the conclusion of this article we will leave the topic open for discussion. In order to get a true understanding of how the rule evolved, we must first go back to the origin of the sport itself and what constitutes fair and foul.
We all know that icing dates back as far as the days when the Northern Inuit tribes would don their saber tooth skates, grab their oak poles and meet atop frozen ice arenas in order to establish a dominant tribe within the region. This annual ritual, while dangerous, would be the sport which we have come to know and love. During these games it was common place for the players or “warriors” to perform icing. Nothing gets my heart pumping faster than the thought of a player skating at top speed and then sharply turning, essentially causing ice to spray up onto the tusks or “skates” of the opposing team member. Thus, icing was born. The above mentioned act can be similarly related to slide tackling which is a move that is performed regularly in the sport of soccer. The “icer”, however, would not want to fall down on the ice but rather stay up and keep skating. During the time the tribes were gathering icing was seen as not only a great display of the skill and tenacity of the performer, but also as a great offense to the receiving player. I would expect that the resulting play would cause watching tribes to scream and cheer as if one had just scored a goal. It would be thought that any great tribe of the era would have many players who regularly “ice” and these tribes would surely have been some of the greatest since the ability to ice was not only wonderful to watch but necessary to create a greater following thus growing the tribes membership; however, I digress. Let us now take a look at how one of the greatest plays in hockey history came to be despised.
The act of icing itself, while glorious, has a more dangerous edge- no pun intended. We must not forget that the skaters are wearing thin, sharp blades upon their feet and that ice, if you didn’t know, is quite slippery. As the sport grew from a ritualistic near battle between opposing forces to a more friendly continued tradition, we saw icing transform. More and more, less skilled players began to attempt to ice in order to boost their star status. Accidents abounded, some terribly gruesome, others even fatal. We even saw skaters begin to ice with one blade intentionally raised in order to cut the ankle of the opposing team members effectively incapacitating and eliminating them from the game. This is akin to “cleating” a term used in baseball in which a runner performs the same action while wearing a pair of cleated shoes. At this point officials, or “game wardens,” were forced to ban the action entirely. Too many great skaters were being injured and taken out of the game, some permanently. Most don’t even know that this ban or foul, one of the first, gave birth to what we know today as the penalty box due to the fact that it was a great shame to be taken away from your tribe members for an extended period of time. As wardens became stricter on enforcing the rule and tribe mentality shifted towards disdain and disapproval of those who would ice, we eventually saw icing disappear from the sport all together, which brings us to the most important part of our discussion.
Icing has returned! The rule itself has been reviewed and removed, to an extent, by the officials and now our generation will get to witness one of the greatest acts in hockey of all time. Just as in slide tackling and cleating, as long as one does not raise a blade off of the ice and does not ice in order to intentionally harm the other player, the foul will not be called. It seems as if the protective gear worn by the skaters, especially modern skates, has been deemed by referees to be safe enough to allow icing. Once again our skaters will be able to show off their skill and prowess in the sport and once again crowds will get an invigorating jolt of energy as they watch the other team’s player get embarrassed by being on the receiving end of a great white spray of ice. Who knows who will be some of the first players to attempt to ice? This is a skill reborn and many skaters now will need to practice in order to ice efficiently. Who knows if we will see some of the injuries and accidents that once plagued the move? Who knows if it will once again turn sinister and be used as a way to take great players out of the game? No one can. So now we must all wait and watch. We will all make our own opinions and see if the re-birth of this once great tradition will become a standard and more common place within the sport. Do you enjoy great acts of skill and a great laugh when a player is iced or do you feel that the play is too dangerous and cannot be allowed? You tell me for you, the fans, ultimately make the calls and decisions for the players and the refs alike. You tell me.
The name Hockey itself is derived from the word “Haki” which is a word shouted at the top of a player’s lungs while making a great play in the game. Additionally, the name Predators finds its roots in a great southern tribe whose regular attendance to the games would be accompanied by large amounts of fish, specifically catfish, which were of abundance in their region and a staple of their diet. No one knows the tribe’s original name though excavations of sites and studies are still underway.