Jonathan Ericsson: “There’s a few times where you get tripped or something like that right by the goal line. You’re coming with a lot of speed, and you can get injured.” (David Guralnick / Detroit News)
Detroit — Wednesday’s start to the regular season was also the beginning of the NHL’s new hybrid icing rule.
The rule is aimed at the elimination those breath-taking, but dangerous, races for the puck which can cause gruesome injuries.
Not surprisingly, it was the defensemen who were most in favor of the new ruling.
“This (rule) is a good thing, I’m sure,” Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson said. “There’s a few times where you get tripped or something like that right by the goal line. You’re coming with a lot of speed, and you can get injured.”
The NHL implemented the hybrid icing rule during the exhibition season with generally positive feedback. The NHL players association took part in a survey late last week and gave its thumbs-up over the weekend.
With the new rule, linesmen will blow the whistle if a defensive player is clearly winning the race for the puck at the defensive-zone faceoff dot.
“I’m glad it’s in, it’s a real good thing, a good change,” coach Mike Babcock said. “The way I look at it, as long as no one is getting hurt, it’s a good thing.”
Daniel Cleary, the Red Wings’ player representative, said he voted against the rule because it puts too much pressure on making a call on the linesman.
But Cleary admitted his was a “wishy-washy” no.
“There’s going to be some gray areas for linesmen,” Cleary said. “But it’s good for the defensemen. I’m all for no one getting hurt.”
Mikael Samuelsson isn’t thinking about last season’s disaster.
He was limited to four games because of a litany of injuries and only had one point, an assist.
In Wednesday’s season opener, Samuelsson scored the Red Wings’ first goal in the 2-1 win over Buffalo.
“That was last year,” said Samuelsson of the disappointing shortened season. “I’ve said it before, but there were fluky injuries. I have the mind-set it’s a new year now. I have to work hard and get back to square one and work for my spot.”
Samuelsson believes he can be a contributor.
“If you ask me, I don’t have any doubts,” Samuelsson said. “I can still play a pretty good game. But it’s easy to stand here and say that. Hopefully I can show it on the ice.”
The Red Wings planned to honor former player Shawn Burr with a moment of silence before the game. Burr passed away Aug. 5 at the age of 47. He had been battling blood cancer.
The Detroit Red Wings Foundation held a 50-50 raffle to benefit Burr’s foundation.
…Forward Tomas Tatar and defenseman Brian Lashoff were healthy scratches.
…Daniel Alfredsson’s presence on the power play, with one of the hardest shots in the league, is a big reason Babcock is optimistic the power play will thrive. There’s also Alfredsson’s veteran status.
“He shoots the puck hard enough and has enough seniority in the league that guys can’t say anything to him when he shoots the puck and they don’t get it back,” Babcock said.