NHL Appears Ready to Adopt 3-on-3 Overtime


NHL Appears Ready to Adopt 3-on-3 Overtime

By Burt Carey


The National Hockey League appears close to adopting a 3-on-3 overtime format for the 2015-16 regular season.

NHL general managers and the NHL Players’ Association agreed to the change Tuesday and now await final approval by the NHL Board of Governors.
National Hockey League, overtime format, shootoutFor hockey fans who adore the current format, the overtime shootout format will not disappear completely. A shootout will used to determine a winner if a game’s score remains tied after a five-minute 3-on-3 period.

League GMs watched intently this year as the American Hockey League tested a hybridized 4-on-4/3-on-3 overtime. The teams would play 4-on-4 to the first whistle following three minutes of a seven-minute overtime period, with the remaining time limited to 3-on-3. The GMs apparently liked that option. Not so much the players’ association, which preferred the five-minute 3-on-3 format.

Both groups knew they had to do something to reduce the number of games decided by shootout.

“The consensus in the room, overwhelmingly, is we’re not getting rid of the shootout,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said during the GM meetings in March. “It was, how do you reduce the number of games that go to the shootout, keep the shootout special?”

With the players’ association signing off on the format change, it’s up to the governors to make a final decision. They meet Wednesday in Las Vegas.

If the league adopts the recommendation, it will be interesting to see how NHL head coaches manage the new format. Playing two forwards and one defenseman seems to make the most sense, but there’s a good argument that two defensemen and one forward could also be used. Whatever they choose, it’s a given that the game’s stars will see more playing time in a wide-open arena where puck possession is the determining key. And, if the AHL experiment is any indicator, fewer games will reach the shootout overtime.

The AHL reported a dramatic drop in the number of games decided by shootout this year. Compared to a year earlier when 15 percent of AHL games ended in a shootout, the league says less than 6 percent of its games this year were decided by shootout. Roughly 25 percent of all games ended in a tie after regulation time had expired. That figure didn’t change from 2014 to 2015.

The shootout overtime has simply lost its appeal among teams and players, although fans appear to heavily favor the excitement of the skills match in shootouts. The league tweaked its 4-on-4 overtime format last season, hoping that additional scoring would reduce the number of games decided by shootout. It didn’t produce the expected results, leading GMs to look to other options.

The 4-on-4 overtime was instituted in 1999; the shootout was added in 2005. Each year since then, more and more games have been decided by shootout.

The Board of Governors will also consider whether to allow coaches to challenge offside goals and goalie interference calls.


Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle