The National Hockey League Players’ Association has some reservations about a potentially new overtime format.
NHLPA executive Mathieu Schneider explained as much in a conversation with USA Today, saying that the current system employed by the AHL — a seven-minute period, in which play goes from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 at the first whistle after three minutes — could be an issue in the NHL.
“My real concern is that top guys are going to be put in these situations, and there will be more wear and tear on them,” Schneider explained. “We’ve seen over the years that rules that are implemented in leagues below and they don’t always have the intended effect when we bring them to the NHL because the players are more consistent and more talented.
“I’m not sure we would see the same results at the NHL level.”
3-on-3 overtime has played to largely positive responses this season — the first in which the AHL has utilized it. Shootouts have been noticeably down and players have expressed how much they’ve enjoyed playing it (like Chicago’s Teuvo Teravainen, with AHL Rockford) and the idea of implementing it at the NHL level (like Colorado’s Matt Duchene.)
The league has responded by watching the results “closely,” and the new overtime format is believed to be on the discussion ledger for the next general managers meeting (Mar. 16-18 in Boca Raton, Florida.)
Schneider suggested there’s not universal union love for revamped OT, however. While the NHLPA hasn’t officially polled its members, Schneider said the idea was brought up at a board meeting and “the room was fairly split.” He did add that he’s been seeking input from players that’ve spent time in the AHL this season and have first-hand experience with 3-on-3.
It’s possible the league and union could find middle ground by experimenting with the new OT style during a preseason trial run, like they did before fully implementing hybrid icing.