Last night, we saw Eric Nystrom hustling to beat out Oilers D Taylor Fedun on a icing call. But then as Nystrom reached around Fedun to try and touch the puck first, he caused Fedun to fall and slide feet first into the boards. Fedun's right leg slammed into the boards, causing his femur to fracture and ending his season before it even started.
The hit comes when the NHL is trying to crack down on players delivering illegal hits to players in "vulnerable" positions. Nystrom had even been tweeting about those types of hits yesterday saying that players need to not put themselves in "vulnerable positions". Expect the NHL to now look further into maybe adopting the "no-touch icing" rule, to keep injuries down on those plays. You may remember former Wild D-Man Kurtis Foster suffered a similar injury in March of '08 against San Jose (Video below). Mike Russo tweeted last night that Foster will be in contact with the NHLPA about "no-touch" icing.
I'm really torn on the no-touch icing. Yes, I want to keep the players safe and on the ice. But I also want to see the hustle that Eric Nystrom showed last night while trying to beat out Fedun. They are the best at what they do and taking away the touching of the puck eliminates that hustle and also, the scoring opportunities that comes with beating out an icing call.
As Russo writes today, Nystrom is not expected to face any type of discipline for the play with Fedun. And he shouldn't. He was clearly making a play for the puck, and not the defender. It was just very unfortunate that Fedun was hurt so badly on the play. Sometimes, things like this just happen. Its part of the game. Nystrom even went so far to apologize to Fedun, he visited him in the hospital today, apologizing numerous times in his brief visit.
I ultimately believe you will see "no-touch" icing in the NHL very soon. If not sometime this year, then most likely next year. Player safety is being put front and center these days, and this will be a big move in ensuring more of it. Its sad to see the touch icing leave, but we got to keep the players safe out there. And that's the bottom line...