Pitkanen sustained a broken left calcaneous bone (his heel) while racing for an icing call against the Washington Capitals on April 2 and was forced to miss the remaining 13 games of the 2013 season. As of this week, it was speculated that the 29 year old might miss the beginning of this season and was scheduled to undergo a CT scan of the injury on Tuesday to determine the prospects of his return.
Unfortunately, such an occurrence will be delayed for far longer than expected. In addition to impacting the Hurricanes defense corps, the injury will also impact Finland's Olympic team as Pitkanen seemingly would have been on the roster.
Icing has been a heavily debated topic over the years, as the dangers of the play have become increasingly more evident. The NHL has decided to proactively look for alternatives as the league will experiment with a hybrid-icing system during the 2013 exhibition portion of the schedule. At the conclusion of the exhibition season, the NHL and the NHL Players' Association will vote on whether the rule change will be adopted for the regular season.
Hybrid icing is a combination of the current icing policy and no-touch icing. Linesmen will be allowed to determine whether to allow an icing race to continue based upon who the official believes is more likely to touch the puck first. In the event of two (or more) players having equal opportunity to touch the puck, the official will side with the defending player if a tie still exists by the time the players reach the faceoff dots.
The desired goal is to eliminate injury, although some take issue with the gray area that can occur by giving the linesmen discretion in making the call.
Ultimately, we will see how it plays out during exhibition.
The American Hockey League previously used hybrid icing over the span of approximately 600 games before disbanding the rule in 2013. The league was pleased with hybrid icing, but felt developing players were not properly being prepared for the NHL, as the rule didn't exist at the next level.