VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Chuck Fletcher has long been a proponent of hybrid icing and hopes the subject makes its back onto the docket at Wednesday’s meeting of general managers in Toronto.
The Wild GM nearly lost his dinner last week when Vancouver’s Mason Raymond accidentally took out the left skate of rookie defenseman Jonas Brodin during a race for an icing in Minnesota.
“I think it’s a no-brainer,” Fletcher said. “After watching what nearly happened to Brodin and the [Eric Nystrom- Taylor] Fedun incident and [Kurtis] Foster incident, I don’t know what more we’re waiting for.
“Raymond was just trying to negate an icing and a bad thing almost happened. We were very fortunate. Are we waiting for one more player to get seriously injured?”
The NHL general managers voted to try hybrid icing on an experimental basis in the American Hockey League this season, but the AHL Board of Governors voted to discontinue it once the NHL lockout ended so there would be a consistent application of the rule between both leagues.
Fletcher rolls his eyes, saying: “I thought it was working incredibly well. It doesn’t make any sense to me that we don’t have it in our game.”
Under hybrid icing, it would be a race to the hash marks in the defensive zone. If the defender beats or ties the forechecker, the linesman blows the play dead. Fletcher likes that better than no-touch icing because of the optics. It keeps the integrity of the foot race in the game.
The Wild’s Torrey Mitchell — coincidentally the former San Jose player who accidentally hit Foster from behind on the 2008 icing that left the former Wild defenseman with a broken femur — said: “I’m all for hybrid icing. I saw [Brodin] go down and was like, ‘Oh no, not again.’
“I’m a lot more conscious now when I go in for icings. It was a difficult situation being involved in the [Foster incident]. You don’t want to be a part of anyone getting hurt. It’s not fun.”
No rest for Backstrom
Niklas Backstrom made his eighth consecutive start and 12th in 13 games Monday against the Canucks. He has shown some signs of fatigue lately, something Mike Yeo said Wild coaches are monitoring.
“We’re going into a battle for first place, and I think it’s important that we go with our starting goalie,” Yeo said Sunday. “At the same time, it’s important that we don’t burn him out. We’ll make sure that he gets enough rest.”
Zucker back in lineup
Left winger Mike Rupp, who sustained a lower-body injury Saturday at Colorado, had to leave Monday’s morning skate early. That opened the door for Jason Zucker, who missed the past two games after a head shot from Anaheim’s Corey Perry, to return.
Zucker, who simply took Rupp’s spot on the fourth line, had to wait for an opportunity because Pierre-Marc Bouchard had played well in his absence.
“I want to be in the lineup every single game. That’s the goal,” Zucker said. “So for me, it’s another great opportunity to be playing.”
Prosser replaces Gilbert
Defenseman Tom Gilbert also missed Monday’s game because of an injury. He didn’t practice Sunday but did skate Monday morning and just didn’t feel right. Nate Prosser, scratched in eight of the past 10 and 16 games this season, played.
Veteran defenseman Brett Clark, signed Wednesday, continues to wait to make his Wild debut.
“We haven’t had a lot of quality practice time,” Yeo said. “When we get him in the lineup, we want to give him the best chance to show what he can do, but also we want him to be up to speed with the way we want to play the game.”