Report: 3-on-3 OT hockey is coming to the NHL pending NHLPA approval

The NHL is looking to decide the outcomes of more games before they reach a shootout and they believe moving to 3-on-3 hockey in overtime is the way to do it. The AHL recently incorporated 3-on-3 play in overtime and they’ve seen a drastic drop in games decided by the skills competition. Reportedly, the NHL will use 3-on-3 play in one form or another pending approval from the NHLPA.

Will the NHLPA accept this change? There have been some concerns over whether players will be more fatigued due to having to play 3-on-3, but that’s been the lone criticism. For what it’s worth, more players have complained about shootouts than they have about a proposed 3-on-3 overtime, but that may change now that it’s on the table.

So far there haven’t been any details released about what form the 3-on-3 hockey may take on, but we do have the AHL as a working model. Over in the AHL, they use 4-on-4 hockey for the first three minutes of a seven-minute overtime period. Following the first whistle after the three minutes have passed, the teams drop to 3-on-3 play for the final four minutes. As you’d expect, the game opens up and the outcome is decided before a shootout is needed.

It’s unclear if the NHL will follow the AHL’s model, but it’d make sense. Extending overtime by a couple minutes and reducing the number of players on the ice should greatly cut down on shootouts.

Whatever the NHL does, they need to keep things simple. Even the AHL’s first whistle after three minutes rule could confuse casual fans and the NHL has been criticized for changing their rules too often for casual fans to keep up and understand the game. Seeing as the NHL is trying to expand into new markets, they’d be wise to keep whatever the new 3-on-3 rule is as basic as possible.

About David Rogers

Editor for The Comeback and Contributing Editor for Awful Announcing. Lover of hockey, soccer and all things pop culture.

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