WHL moves to hybrid icing; re-elects Hamilton as board chair

WHL concludes its Annual General Meeting with some changes coming for the next season

The Western Hockey League concluded its Annual General Meeting Wednesday in Vancouver, highlighted by a decision to move to hybrid icing for the 2016-17 WHL season and the installation of new video replay systems in all WHL facilities as well as the re-election of Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton as WHL Board Chair.

Here’s a look at what happened at the AGM:

Hybrid Icing

Successfully proven in the National Hockey League, the WHL will introduce hybrid icing next season.

There are two decisions a linesman must make under hybrid icing rules. First, he must determine that the shot from a player’s own side of center ice will cross the icing line in the attacking zone. Second, he must determine whether a defending skater or attacking skater would be the first to touch the puck.

This second decision must be made no later than the instant the first of the players reaches the end zone faceoff spots, although the decision can be made earlier. The skates of the skaters are the determining factor.

Video Replay Systems

The WHL also announced that new video replay systems provided by Hawk-Eye Innovations will be installed in all WHL facilities in time for the start of the 2016-17 season. Hawk-Eye, also the supplier of video replay technology to the NHL and Major League Baseball, will provide WHL Video Goal Judges with improved capabilities for all video review situations.

Puck Off Skates Rule Clarification

The WHL also clarified the rule regarding pucks off players’ skates which enter the net. The clarification states that, unless the puck is in the goal crease, a puck that enters the net off of a player’s skate shall be ruled a goal. This will eliminate the need for a decision by the referee and/or video goal judge as to whether it was a distinct kicking motion or not.

Bruce Hamilton Re-elected

WHL Chairman of the Board Bruce Hamilton was re-elected to a new two-year term by the WHL Board of Governors. Hamilton (Kelowna Rockets) is the longest serving Chairman in WHL history, having held the position since 2008 as well as from 1998 to 2004.

Sutter, Farwell Re-elected

Brent Sutter (Red Deer Rebels) and Russ Farwell (Seattle Thunderbirds) were re-elected to represent the WHL’s Central and U.S. Division, respectively, on the WHL Executive Committee. Sutter and Farwell rejoin Ron Toigo (Vancouver – B.C. Division) and Gord Broda (Prince Albert – East Division) on the WHL Executive Committee.

WHL Players First Support Services and WHL/CMHA Talk Today Implementation

The WHL Annual General Meeting also included a review of the WHL’s Players First support services program. The WHL’s Players First support services program includes a number of programs for WHL players including Red Cross RespectEd Seminars, Respect in Sport certification, Police/Player Impact Program, CHL Concussion Management Program as well as the recently-implemented WHL Security Network and WHL Club Liaison Officers.

The WHL recently announced its partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association alongside the CHL for the Talk Today program. Also discussed at the WHL Annual General Meeting was the implementation strategy for the Talk Today program across the WHL this fall. Talk Today is a proven mental health education program that will help players and team staff identify and deal with mental health issues. It will be implemented by all 60 CHL teams for the 2016-17 season.