Handling hockey overtime

  • Oct. 22, 2014 4:50 p.m.

The NHL season is nicely underway with fans from coast to coast sitting back to enjoy a winter of hockey.

The next six months or so will see its fair share of blowouts, upsets and close games which will need overtime to declare a winner.

Under the current format of overtime teams will play the five minutes and if no winner is decided then it’s off to the shootout.

It is the part of the game I have no use for personally.

Sure the penalty shot is one of the most exciting plays in hockey but only when it crops up once in awhile during a season. Not six times during a failure to score in extra time.

Most times you will see teams playing overtime in such a way as to get it into the shootout mode where anything can happen for either side.

This takes a little of the shine off the extra time play in my mind.

So what can the NHL do in order to give the fans some excitement and at the same time declare a winner of the game?

The American Hockey League has been experimenting with a format which might be the testing ground for the NHL to observe closely in order to dispense with the shootout.

The league started this year playing a seven-minute overtime period with the first three minutes played four on four. The first whistle after the three minute mark, if no goal is scored, sees teams switch to a three on three format .

The early results have seen six games go into overtime and six winners emerge. Within the new format three games were decided during the four on four play and three on the three on three configuration.

No shootout required.

It seems the new brand is creating some fun, excitement and coaching decisions with the AHL.

The bench bosses now have to figure out what sort of combination to throw out there for the three on three version.


Do you go with three forwards, three defensemen, two forwards and one defenseman, two defensemen and one forward?

No matter what is decided by the coach, the fans are getting some great entertainment and the players apparently enjoy the challenge of some shinny hockey.

Now it’s only October so there is a long way to go with this and things may change but for now I’m on board with this one.

If this turns out to be the nail in the coffin for the shootout, then hand me a hammer please and thank you.