The shootout is the most overused gimmick in the history of the National Hockey League. Finally the league has decided to take measures to reduce the amount of these skills competitions by changing the way that overtime is played.
Beginning next season, the NHL will make their five minute overtime a 3-on-3 affair. Reducing the number of players on the ice by one per side will open up the ice surface and still allow hockey plays to determine the outcome of the game, not who has the best shootout move.
Shootouts will still exist, but the instances that we see the shootout should be cut significantly.
In the AHL, just changing the overtime to a half four-on-four, half three-on-three proposition cut the amount of shootouts down by two thirds. Only about 20 percent of games that went to overtime managed to get to the shootout, compared to the nearly 60 percent rate before the change.
We had an instant winner, and that is what hockey is about. The reason why hockey is the greatest game in the world is because of the fluidity of the game. The shootout stops the game in its tracks. Do we see skill in the shootout…yes. But in three-on-three overtime, the onus will be on making a hockey play to win the game. If you execute well, you team stands a chance to win. But if you poach and try to go for the win, your team will be susceptible to giving up the overtime winner.
There is nowhere to hide in three-on-three overtime. The pace should be great and the premium will be on possession, and speed.
It’s worth a shot. The NHL has lost me and many others as a fan when the shootout comes along. It also cheapens their product…something that sudden victory and sudden death will surely change.