The NHL has been exploring potential changes to enhance the excitement of the game. One of the key areas under discussion is the 3-on-3 overtime format, a thrilling addition to the sport since its introduction in the 2015-16 season.
Recently, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman shared insights into a proposed rule change for 3-on-3 overtime, shedding light on its potential impact. Friedman highlighted a compelling case study from the BCHL, where a switch to a 10-minute 3-on-3 overtime period resulted in a significant drop in games proceeding to shootouts—from 41% to just 14%. This statistic raises intriguing possibilities for the NHL to consider as they contemplate adjustments to their own overtime format.
The proposed change involves extending the 3-on-3 overtime period to 10 minutes, aiming to reduce the reliance on shootouts and provide a more exhaustive showcase of teams’ depth. According to Friedman, the longer duration prevents teams from shortening their benches too quickly, ensuring a deeper rotation of players and potentially more dynamic and unpredictable gameplay.
NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, Colin Campbell, acknowledged continued discussions regarding potential upgrades to 3-on-3 overtime during a general managers meeting on Tuesday. He expressed concern about teams regrouping in the neutral zone, which could reduce the turmoil and excitement that the format first brought to the game. During these discussions, various ideas were considered, including eliminating the ability to pull the puck out of the attacking zone after crossing the blue line and introducing a shot clock to encourage more aggressive play. However, the challenge lies in finding the right balance to maintain the flow of the game without disrupting the natural rhythm.
The data-driven conversations around overtime changes will continue when the NHL general managers reconvene in March. The objective remains to enhance the game’s excitement and address evolving strategies while preserving the integrity and spontaneity that fans love about 3-on-3 overtime.