We’re currently in a day and age of hockey where concussions and hits from behind into the boards are almost at an epidemic rate of occurrence. It’s become such a big issue, that registration in minor league hockey is dropping because parents don’t want to see their kids getting hurt. However the NCAA believes they have a solution to the hitting from behind issue which has become the norm in hockey. The NCAA is intending to implement a warning track near the boards, to help players know where they are and how close they are to the boards.
The track will be dubbed as the Look-Up Line and is similar to the warning track used in baseballe, or is at least supposed to do the same thing. The line is intended to cut down hits from behind during game action by providing players a reference. The track will be a solid orange line a few inches or feet away from the boards that will remind players they are getting close to the boards and need to be careful of dangerous plays. With the full face cages that NCAA hockey players are forced to wear, it’s easy to lose track of where you are and who’s coming at you from behind. This orange line is intending to fix that problem.
The orange line is expected to be 40 inches in width and was tested out during the Frozen Fenway games this season. Players claimed they didn’t really notice the line, however the line used in that game was not as bold or as big as the one they hope to implement next season in the NCAA college hockey ranks. It’s reported that the rule has already been accepted, however it’s not mandatory for all rinks. That means schools will have the choice to implement the rule going forward.
The goal for the warning track is two fold. One it should help cut down on hits from behind and secondly it will help eliminate excuses such as the speed of the game. When you see the warning line you are supposed to either slow down or prepare for contact if going for the puck.
The warning track still needs to pass some more tests before being implemented but many in the hockey world are on board with the idea. It will be awhile before you see the idea in the NHL, if ever, but if the NCAA can lower their hits from behind because of the line the rest of the hockey world will take notice. Whether it will be effective or not remains to be seen. Generally players know where they are on the ice and how close they are to the boards, but due to the speed of the game often can’t slow down enough or lay off the hit. Also hockey players generally aren’t looking at the ice, because they’re focused on the play, their opponents and their next move. You’re not skating with your head down looking for a little line on the ice to give you a warning.
When it was first debuted it wasn’t all that successful as there was still a boarding call on the day and several players and coaches stated they did not see the line during play. It’s hard to see any downside to this new rule and it could be a big step forward in player safety going forward.