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NHL, union reps discuss change to overtime format

by Dan Rosen / Columbus Blue Jackets

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- NHL general managers spent a portion of the last day of their meetings Wednesday outlining their proposals for 3-on-3 regular-season overtime and expanded video review to members of the executive staff of the NHL Players' Association.

The GMs agreed Tuesday that they would recommend going to a 3-on-3 format as part of regular-season overtime for the 2015-16 season as a way to cut down on the number of games that extend to a shootout. The rate of overtime games that reach the shootout this season is about 60 percent.

The GMs also agreed they will recommend the addition of a limited video-replay challenge, which will be used by a coach, for scoring plays involving the potential presence of goaltender interference, and to remove delay-of-game penalties assessed for a player shooting the puck directly out of play over the glass from the defensive zone.

The recommendations can't become official rule changes until they are passed by the NHL-NHLPA Competition Committee, the NHLPA Executive Board, and the NHL Board of Governors. Each of those groups are scheduled to meet in June.

The topic of 3-on-3 overtime generated the most discussion.

"I think it intrigues the guys, to see what it's actually going to be like to play 3-on-3," NHLPA divisional player representative Steve Webb said. "Usually it's what, 30 seconds that you get an opportunity to play 3-on-3? So it hasn't really been coached yet or perfected on how you do it or how you execute or what's your strategy. They're kind of intrigued with the whole opportunity to participate in the 3-on-3."

The GMs wanted to hear feedback from the NHLPA before deciding the format for their recommendation for 3-on-3 overtime.

They could go with the American Hockey League model, which extends overtime from five minutes to seven, starting with 4-on-4 and moving to 3-on-3 following the first whistle after the three-minute mark.

Using that format this season, 76 percent of the AHL games that have gone to overtime have finished in overtime; it was 35.3 percent last season. The AHL has had 5.8 percent of its games end in a shootout opposed to 15.6 percent last season.

Another option is to use the AHL model as a base but have a hard break in overtime to cut from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 rather than wait for a whistle.

The other option, which was brought up by Calgary Flames GM Brad Treliving, is to have overtime be 3-on-3 for the entire five-minute period.

Webb said he was unsure what the players' response would be to adding time to overtime.

"I think that's going to be a discussion that we have to dig down a little deeper," Webb said of extending overtime to as long as seven minutes. "I don't think we have enough feedback from the players about extending the game right now."

Webb said adding a 3-on-3 format to overtime could be good for the offensive players, particularly high-end players, because it will give them more opportunities to score. However, he mentioned the effect it could have on goaltenders facing more shots and potentially giving up more goals as being a downside.

"Right now there hasn't really been a consensus of what the guys are thinking just because we haven't talked to more of the players," Webb said.

NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said a longer overtime could be better for goaltenders because their workload would decrease with fewer shootouts.

"One point we made is if they felt the extra two minutes was more stress on their players; the point I made in talking to our managers was there's going to be a little less stress on probably, arguably, your most important player, your goaltender, who will have less shootouts to face," Campbell said. "He obviously faces the most stress in every shootout. There's a give and take on that one if that's their concern."

For context, Webb said members of the NHLPA staff will discuss 3-on-3 in overtime with players in the American Hockey League who have been playing with it all season.

"We will be spending more time talking to those guys to see how they liked [it]," he said. "How many times did you do it? What was the coaching strategy like? We'll get a lot of feedback from those guys."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

Author: Dan Rosen | NHL.com Senior Writer

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