Change on the way for NHL overtime

Updated 3/17/2015 10:33 PM

It's looking more and more like 3-on-3 overtime hockey will be coming to the NHL next season in some way, shape or form.

At the general manager meetings Tuesday in Boca Raton, Florida, the GMs recommended the change as the league looks to increase the percentage of games decided before having to go to a shootout.


Count the Islanders' John Tavares as a fan of switching things up.

"I really think there should be 3-on-3," Tavares said before taking on the Blackhawks at the United Center on Tuesday night. "I know people might think it's a little bit gimmicky, but I think the shootout's a little bit gimmicky."

It appears the league will go in one of two directions, either:

• Using the 3-on-3 for the full five-minute overtime;

• Or adopting the AHL model in which OTs start 4-on-4 but then go to 3-on-3 after three minutes elapse and the first whistle sounds. If no goal is scored after seven minutes, the game goes to a shootout.

The competition committee will have to approve any changes.

"We're going to take it to the competition committee, basically see what the players feel about it," Red Wings GM Ken Holland told reporters. "But we're going to make a change."

Through Monday, 257 of 1,040 NHL games went to overtime with 57 percent of those going to the shootout. In the AHL, 224 of 922 games went to OT and just 24 percent went to the shootout.

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In the Blackhawks' case, 18 games have gone to OT with only six decided in overtime (33 percent).

Tavares, the league's leading scorer after Monday with 72 points, painted a mouthwatering example of what 3-on-3 hockey could bring to fans when he said, "Any time you're able to get a matchup -- say (Patrick) Kane, (Jonathan) Toews and Duncan Keith against (St. Louis' Vladimir) Tarasenko, (David) Backes and (Alex) Pietrangelo -- I think you're going to see some pretty special hockey, some great plays and see guys show their skill.

"I don't see how that can't be very entertaining and a great way to decide a hockey game."

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was inclined to agree.

"I don't think anybody minds having it sorted out with a real goal," Quenneville said.

The Hawks' Bryan Bickell and goalie Scott Darling were talking about the subject Monday, and Darling, who spent most of this year in the AHL, said guys were definitely trying "more high-risk plays" because of all the extra space on the ice.

Added the 6-foot-4, 223-pound Bickell: "I know for me I probably won't get out there for 3-on-3s (chuckles). But it would be fun for the fans and more scoring that way. But I'm sure the fans love the shootout, too, if it gets down to that."

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