The Carolina Hurricanes really didn't need this. 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, the club have fallen to 10th in the East, struggling through inconsistent play, a sputtering offence, and worst of all, injuries on their back-end and in goal.
On Tuesday, the club suffered yet another such injury, as big-minute defenceman Joni Pitkanen went into the wall trying to outrace Capitals' forward Troy Brouwer on an icing call. This one looked bad. Add this cringeworthy clip to the list of arguments for hybrid icing:
It doesn't look like Brouwer did anything here that threw Pitkanen off his stride. No push, no stick to the skates. In fact, it looks like he did a pretty good job of reaching for the puck without doing anything to endanger Pitkanen.
Of course, that doesn't mean Pitkanen wasn't in danger. Touch icing endangers Pitkanen and every other hockey player all on its own.
(UPDATE: Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford said he believes Pitkanen will miss the next three months.)
Expect this play to revive the debate over touch icing in hockey, because Pitkanen wouldn't have left this game on a stretcher if the hybrid rule were in place. Hybrid icing, which saw a mostly positive 564-game test period in the AHL in January, allows the linesman to blow the play dead based if the opposition player doesn't look like the clear winner to the puck by the faceoff dots, and in this race, Pitkanen was slightly ahead at that point.
So the play continued, and as Pitkanen pushed to beat a surging Brouwer to the puck, he got too close to the wall before attempting to put on the brakes. When he wasn't able to begin stopping in time, he crashed into the wall, right leg-first, with a significant amount of force.
Kurtis Foster, who broke his left leg in several places after crashing into the wall on a puck race in 2008, had an immediate response to the play:
Yes, Pitkanen could be done for the season (although the good news is that he was treated in-area rather than being taken to hospital), but wasn't that an exciting play? You can see why the game continues to put players at risk every night.