The NHL is trying to do all it can to avoid shootouts, and its latest idea is by turning overtime into a 3-on-3 period that lasts for five minutes, hoping it’s more exciting for fans and more likely to put the puck in the net.
The league’s general managers are for it. Now all that’s needed is the approval of the NHL’s Board of Governors. Right now, horus before the board meets in Las Vegas, it seems it’s nothing but a formality, and the change will be made.
I’ve said all along that as much as there’s excitement for the shootout I’d like to see the games decided before the shootout if possible and this increases the probability. If it gets approved by the Board of Governors tomorrow I think it’s a good change and we’ve seen evidence of a lot more games decided in the overtime with that change both in the American Hockey League and the Swedish league. (Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen)
The initial idea was to start overtime with a four-on-four situation before moving to three-on-three for the final three minutes, but the players’ union blocked the idea, suggesting the game’s top players would be adversely impacted as they are the ones who generally play the most in the overtime sessions.
Last season 170 shootouts took place, which means 13.8% of the games ended that way. That’s a small decline from the 2013-2014 season in which 178 games (14.5%) were decided by a shootout. Since it was introduced following the lockout season of 2004-2005, there’s been growing frustration among teams that too many points are being left on the ice due to losing in what is nothing more than a skills competition.
Not everyone is “all for it”, saying goaltenders might not enjoy the new rules of overtime so much, but overall, even Ron Hextall, now the general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers and a former NHL goaltender himself, agrees it’s probably for the best.
I think there’s too many shootouts and the 3-on-3s, as much as the fans like the shootouts, they’re really going to like the 3-on-3. I saw a lot of it at the American Hockey League level. It’s exciting. It’s free-flowing. It’s chance for chance. It’s tough on a goalie but it’s exciting.