Blues bits: Thursdays game time moved back; NHL implements hybri -

Blues bits: Thursdays game time moved back; NHL implements hybrid icing

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By Elizabeth Eisele By Elizabeth Eisele

(HockeyStL) -- With Thursday set to be a busy sports day for the city of St. Louis, the Blues are making sure nobody misses out on the excitement.

The Cardinals, who will begin their 2013 playoff journey at home on Thursday afternoon, will kick off the events with their playoff match up at 4 o’clock p.m. The Blues will follow, what will hopefully be a Cardinals’ win, with their season opener at Scottrade Center.

The Blues’ game was originally slated to start at 7 p.m., but to accommodate St. Louis fans, the game time has been moved back a half-hour to 7:30. Assuming that the Cardinals’ game doesn’t go into extra innings, or move at a snail’s pace, fans should be able to take in both games on Thursday.

In addition to moving back the game by a half-hour, the Blues have also moved back their annual home opener fan rally from 5 o’clock to 5:30. The rally, as usual, will take place outside of Scottrade Center and will feature speakers from the Blues organization, including Blues Alumni, broadcasters, and more. The rally will lead up to the opening puck drop.

The Blues would like fans to be in their seats by 7:15 for the opening ceremonies, which will include player and coaching staff introductions, as well as a pregame puck drop by former Blue, and recently-introduced Vice President, Brett Hull.

NHL implements hybrid-icing

On Monday evening, the National Hockey League announced that a new rule would be taking effect, starting immediately. The League, rather last minute, relayed to the public that hybrid-icing would be implemented for the 2013-14 hockey season, which begins on Tuesday evening.

Hybrid-icing will be significantly different from the touch-icing rule, but also significantly safer.

The NHL’s thought process behind the new icing rule is eliminating the dangerous contact that came with the touch-icing rule, which has been used since 1937. With hybrid-icing, the linesman can blow a play dead, signaling for an automatic icing, if the puck will cross the goal line and a defending player is the first to reach the imaginary line between the face-off dots in his own end. The rule also states that if a play is blown dead by a linesman, and the puck does not cross the goal line, the face-off will come to center ice.

In past years, icing was called only if the defending player was able to touch the puck, after it crossed the goal line, before the attacking player. The touch-icing rule led to several scary incidents involving the end-boards.

"Ultimately the [general] managers believe it's a safety issue. It makes the game safer for the players and we think it's important," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said on NHL Live on Monday.

The NHL tested out hybrid-icing in the preseason, but before it could be implemented for the regular season, it had to be approved by the National Hockey League Players Association. The approval came on the final day of the preseason.

The biggest concern surrounding the new rule is the call being left to the linesman’s discretion. There were several controversial instances in the preseason that led to some resistance to implementing the new rule. In fact, it was somewhat surprising that the players even gave the okay to use the new rule this season.

"I think it will be an adjustment," Daly said on NHL Live. "In the preseason games I've had a chance to see, I've seen a progression already in terms of the linesman's comfort in making the call and it's becoming more consistent, and obviously consistency is very, very important for the rule to be effective. It may take some time and I'm confident. Once you have a rule in place our officials grasp it and apply it, and I think it'll work."

While players want the league to be safer, there is a lot of room for error when adding even more to the officials’ job description, especially with as fast the game of hockey moves. This seems to be the overwhelming concern with the hybrid-icing rule.



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