(ISN) – BOCA RATON, Fla. —Unhappy with the number of games resulting in shootouts, NHL general managers are all in agreement with the addition of three-on-three overtimes.
Many people have disliked shootouts since they entered the league ten years ago. With three-on-three overtimes, general managers hope to limit shootouts in regular season games.
“The consensus from all of us is, while we obviously are going to continue the shootout, we are going to see if we can make it a little less frequent,” commissioner Gary Bettman said Tuesday on the second day of the general managers meeting. “That’s something we’re going to discuss with the competition committee because, obviously, we want the Players’ Association input on how we’re going to approach it.” There are two routes the NHL can go with the three-on-three overtime. They can go with a system similar to what the AHL is using. The AHL has a seven minute overtime period starting at four-on-four and then going to three-on-three following the first whistle after the three minute mark. Out of all the games that go to overtime, the AHL has cut down games decided in a shootout by almost forty percent.
The other option is to adopt the Swedish Elite Leagues approach. They simply play a five minute three-on-three overtime. If that doesn’t solve anything, they go to shootout. The three-on-three gives teams more open ice and scoring opportunities than four-on-four. A hefty seventy percent of games that go to overtime in the Swedish Elite League are decided before shootout. If there is a penalty committed in three-on-three overtime, the opposing team gets an extra man to form four-on-three. When the penalty has concluded, the teams play four-on-four until the next stoppage in play. “At the end of the day, we’re happy as a group here going either way,” said Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings on which option is a better fit for the NHL.
If the NHL decides to go with the AHL format, GMs would like to add time to it. Players are hesitant about this, Holland said he would go back to Detroit to talk to players and coach Mike Babcock about what they prefer. Other GMs around the league plan to do the same. One of these options should be a sure go next season pending the agreement from the players union which is almost certain. The other matter discussed at the GM meetings on Tuesday was a coach’s challenge system for goalie interference. Coaches will be able to challenge a goalie interference call only if they have a timeout remaining and a goal was scored on the play. Referees will look at a monitor in the penalty box and decide with assistance from the situation room in Toronto, whether there was goalie interference. If the referees disagree with the situation room or vice versa, they will go with the call on the ice. “You can’t have certainty on this, but the type of situation which this is intended to address is the puck goes in the net, nobody makes a call but it turns out there was contact that nobody saw,” Bettman said. “It would be an attempt to get the better call, but it would ultimately still be the official’s call and it would still be his judgment.”
In addition, all questionable overtime goals will be reviewed without a challenge from either coach. A few other topics brought up at the meetings were emergency goalie protocol when both goalies of the same team are injured in a single game. “We’re working on that,” Bettman said about the emergency goalie protocol. “It doesn’t happen very often, every 40 years or so.” Although a number of issues were raised in today’s GMs meeting, it sounds like the major emphasis was on lowering the number of shootouts and we’ll seeing change next season.