I think I played in four different 3-on-3 leagues, ton of games in the summertime, just played all the time. It was my favorite time of the year, in the summertime, to play 3-on-3 tournaments. - Johnny Gaudreau
CALGARY, AB -- Perhaps selfishly, Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau can get behind a revamped format for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game.
Because, well, few share the level of experience that the sophomore has amassed in his 22 years.
“All my life my dad thought it was smart…he ran his own rink and put leagues together, 3-on-3 leagues,” Gaudreau said. “I think I played in four different 3-on-3 leagues, ton of games in the summertime, just played all the time. It was my favorite time of the year, in the summertime, to play 3-on-3 tournaments.”
Yes, 3-on-3 will be coming to Nashville on Jan. 31.
The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced Wednesday that the All-Star Game would undergo a significant face-lift, dumping the single-game format for a 3-on-3 All Star Tournament. The games, comprised of three 20-minute games played by teams divided by division, will finish in a winner-take-all $1 million purse.
Gaudreau, who wouldn't shy away from being part of the festivities, can get behind the new format.
“Yeah, I’d definitely try a lot harder if that was up for grabs, so we’ll see,” he said. “Who knows? The guys will definitely try a lot harder in the All-Star Game with that prize money up. The little tournament format makes it more fun, too.”
The Salem, NJ native, who participated as a rookie alongside captain Mark Giordano in last year’s event, got the feeling that a format change was due.
“This is only my second year in the league so it’s hard for me to say what needs to be changed and whatnot,” he said. “Just talking to buddies that have been watching it their whole life, they say it’s starting to get a little slow for what they liked. This is a good change and we’ll see how it works.”
Giordano, a veteran of 530 regular season NHL games, suggested the change was needed, too.
“I think it’s something fresh,” he said. “I think it needed something; it needed a change. I just think hopefully it’ll crank up some intensity. It’ll be end-to-end action. I think it’ll be cool, the tournament format.”
The 3-on-3 format, adopted for overtime this season, has seen a significant decrease in games getting to the shootout. According to the NHL, 67.9 percent of games going beyond regulation have ended via the 3-on-3 overtime format heading into action Wednesday, up from 44.4 percent from last season’s 4-on-4 format.
Gaudreau has helped that statistic. He shares the NHL lead with three overtime points, including one game-winner, with Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Lee Stempniak of the New Jersey Devils.
“(It’s) just a lot of space,” Gaudreau said. “You’ve got to be smart defensively but at the same time be good defensively. You can be a defenceman, can be a forward at any time. Even the goalies can be a huge part of 3-on-3. I just think you’ve got to be creative and smart with the puck.”
He’d more than welcome lending his skills in the All-Star setting.
“I’m a big fan of the 3-on-3,” Gaudreau said. “The All-Star Game last year was a lot of fun, getting to play with a ton of guys I’ve been looking up to my whole life. It was a little bit slow and I don’t think the fans were into it as much as past years, but I think 3-on-3 would be fun.”