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Managers like idea of 3-on-3 overtime in NHL next season

March 18, 2015

BOCA RATON, Florida (AP) — A proposal to change the format of NHL games by instituting three-on-three play in overtime has gotten the support of the league’s general managers, although final approval is still needed.

The GMs devised two options related to overtime: a switch to three-on-three play for five minutes that the Swedish Hockey League uses, or a four-on-four to three-on-three approach similar to the lower-tier American Hockey League.

The recommendations will go to the joint NHL/NHL Players’ Association competition committee, which meets in June and must approve any rule changes.

That committee also will consider the other recommendation from general managers of instituting a coach’s challenge system for goaltender interference. If it goes through, coaches will be able to challenge goalie interference only on goals scored and only if they have their timeout left.

The AHL increased its overtime play to seven minutes, starting out with four-on-four play for the first three minutes and then changing to three-on-three for the remainder of overtime.

While the NHL understands shootouts are popular with fans, the league would like more games going beyond regulation to be decided in overtime.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who confirmed the GMs were unified in switching to either the Swedish Hockey League or AHL overtime format, acknowledged shootouts are here to stay.

“The consensus in the room, overwhelmingly, is we’re not getting rid of the shootout,” he said. “It was how do you reduce the number of games that go to the shootout, keep the shootout special.

“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.”

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, a proponent for an overtime change, has no doubt a new rule will finally take hold.

“We’re going to take it to the competition committee, basically see what the players feel about it,” he said. “But we’re going to make a change.”

As for the proposed goalie interference rule change, if the coach challenge is incorrect, he’ll lose his timeout.

Officials on the ice as well, as in the NHL situation room in Toronto, will view video to determine the correct call. There will be no penalty component to the coach’s challenge.

“We ultimately concluded that we had to do something on goaltender interference that was different because it’s a judgment call,” Bettman said.

Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon been pushing for a coach’s challenge rule for years and was happy the issue finally received traction.

“It’s about time,” he said. “I got voted down 28-2 four years ago and today it was 29-1 in favor.”

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