CORNER BROOK Jason King has absolutely no problem with being a guinea pig.
He’s actually pretty happy about it.
The American Hockey League, in which King will resume play next season with the St. John’s IceCaps after inking a new two-year contract extension over the weekend, will test a version of no-touch icing to start the 2012-13 regular season.
The new hybrid icing rule will see the play blown dead if a defending player is the first to reach the end zone face-off dots, provided the puck has crossed the goal-line at that point.
The test of the rule is at the request of the National Hockey League and will be in effect until Nov. 19, at which time its continued use will be determined by the AHL’s board of governors.
“It seems like the AHL is always a good stepping stone for testing out rules and stuff, so it’ll be good to see what happens,” King said Tuesday. “I think it’s a great idea.”
King has frequently found himself in a race to the end boards for an iced puck throughout his hockey career and the potential precariousness of the situation is never lost on him.
“The danger is always there,” he said, noting the touch icing rule has been on the edge of changing for a number of years now, with CBC hockey commentator and former NHL coach Don Cherry a more-than vocal advocate of its elimination from the game.
“Injuries for that don’t happen too often, but when they do it’s usually something serious, which nobody wants to see,” said King.
The 30-year-old Corner Brook native played for a few years with no-touch icing during stints in Sweden and Germany and said it really didn’t change the flow of the game at all.
“To be honest, I think (no-touch icing) is better for both sides,” he said. “At key points in the game, it kind of speeds the game up and actually probably saves guys a bit of energy.
“I think it’s a great rule to change,” he added. “We’ll see how it goes.”
He’s aware hockey purists may disagree and acknowledges there are times when beating out an icing call can change the complexion of a game in a hurry, but that’s the bonus of this proposed hybrid rule — the race remains intact, but the finish line won’t always be as unforgiving.
“You don’t want to change the game too much, but you want to make it safer as well,” said King. “You want to keep guys out of dangerous situations and hopefully this will help do that.”
With a new AHL contract in his pocket, King, his wife Jennifer and their two young sons will enjoy a summer settled down in St. John’s, but they’ll still find their way back home for a spell to attend a friend’s wedding later this month.
“We’re going to come out (to Corner Brook) for maybe 10 days or so,” he said. “Other than that, we’re out here for the summer.”