NHL GMs Propose 3-on-3 Overtime, Coach’s Challenge


NHL general managers proposed regular season games use a 3-on-3 format in overtime and allow coaches to challenge calls.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said both rules could be implemented for the 2015-16 season. The NHL’s competition committee must approve any rule changes before execution.

Regular season games go to a 4-on-4, five-minute overtime upon an end-of-regulation deadlock. If neither team scores a goal, a shootout ensues. Managers want to decrease the possibilities of a shootout with the 3-on-3.

“The consensus in the room, overwhelmingly, is we’re not getting rid of the shootout,” described Bettman. “It was, how do you reduce the number of games that go to the shootout, keep the shootout special?”

There are two options on the table. From NHL.com:

One option would have overtime start 3-on-3 and continue for five minutes, unless a goal is scored, before going to the shootout.

The other would mimic the model instituted by the American Hockey League this season, with 4-on-4 play for the first three minutes of a seven-minute overtime, followed by 3-on-3 play after the first whistle past the three-minute mark.

The managers could not agree which option to take, but all agree something needs to change.

“I think in the American League it’s gone great,” said Joe Sakic, former player and the current executive vice president and GM of the Colorado Avalanche. “It’s very exciting and I think it will add even more excitement to the game, so it’s a good thing. We’ll see where it goes, but I know the fans have great love of shootouts. But if you can make it even more exciting by adding a 3-on-3, everybody benefits.”

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland wanted the change in overtime rules and helped pushed through the ideas.

“I’m good with both,” declared Holland. “I think in both cases, what we’re trying to accomplish is take where 40 percent of our games are decided in overtime and 60 percent in shootouts — ideally we’d like to switch those numbers. We still want shootouts; we think fans like shootouts. But we’re trying to get more games decided playing hockey in overtime.”

The coach’s challenge is another way to prevent games from going into overtime or a shootout. If approved the coach can challenge a goaltender interference call “on potential goal-scoring plays.” However, it can only be used if the team has a timeout available. The rule is similar to the NFL. If the coach wins the challenge, he keeps his timeout. If he loses the challenge, he loses the timeout.

“The purpose of this is we don’t want everything being reviewed,” explained Bettman. “Overwhelmingly, the calls are right. We only want it done in an egregious case.”