Everyone loves 3-on-3 overtime.
Not as many fans enjoy the shootout.
And since most games that head to extra time get a result before having to go to the shootout — and it’s the more entertaining element anyway — why don’t we just add a few more minutes to 3-on-3 action to get maximum entertainment and, hopefully, cut back on shootouts a bit more?
We don’t even need to go to 10 minutes of 3-on-3. What about seven? Eight?
The only onlookers who don’t adore 3-on-3 may be NHL coaches who, as Jets boss Paul Maurice succinctly described, have to endure all the system breakdowns and freelancing that belies responsible, defensive hockey.
“3-on-3 is… I can’t use the words that I want to use,” Maurice said after a game against the Leafs this month. “It’s a free-for-all of fecal matter. It’s a (expletive) show out there, and that’s great.”
Edmonton coach Dave Tippett, who already heavily relies on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl — who rank one and two in average ice time among all forwards to this point in the season — would have to demand more minutes from his two stars.
“Could you give us an extra three time outs?” Tippett laughed. “I like the three-on-three, for the most part. I like the entertainment value — it does bring a different element, a different edge. I guess you could say the same thing for the shootout, a novice hockey fan jumps in and gets to see a one-on-one situation. You never see anyone leaving the rink during the shootout, just like no one is leaving during the three-on-three.”
But we wondered what some players thought about the idea of extending 3-on-3 since, you know, they’re the ones who have to play the extra time after already getting through a taxing 60 minutes of regulation. These minutes quickly add up over the course of a long regular season.
Are they as into the idea as many fans are?
Sportsnet reporters from across Canada asked players for their thoughts on more 3-on-3 overtime action in the regular season.
Would you be in favour of extending the length of 3-on-3 overtime?
“Personally, I like the shootout, and I think they should change the shootout rule; the first three should be different guys, but then the same guy can go again. That would create that battle of, say, Patrick Kane against Connor McDavid. They could go one after the other and that would be great for the fans.
“I like 3-on-3. It’s usually how 80 per cent of the games end anyway when it goes to overtime. You barely see the shootouts anymore. It’s not like when we were playing 4-on-4.
“I think it’s good how it is. People can’t be here until midnight. They’ve gotta go home, get some sleep and put their kids in bed.” – Montreal’s Ilya Kovalchuk
“I like it the way it is. I like the shootout. I think it’s good for regular season, obviously. But for world juniors or international competitions, I don’t think it should be there. I think the NHL has it right now. Just 3-on-3 for five minutes and then a shootout. – Montreal’s Nick Suzuki
“I think from a fan’s perspective, it’s always fun to watch 3-on-3. That extra point’s always really important and 3-on-3 is a good way to settle it. It’s better than a shootout. I think deciding the game with a shootout’s not maybe the best way.
“I probably would extend it to seven or 10 minutes. Maybe that would be a good way to do it. – Montreal’s Charlie Lindgren
“I think they could go a little longer. Maybe seven minutes. It’s just tough because there’s so many games in the year, especially back-to-backs and stuff, you don’t want to be playing 20 minutes of overtime and having to go play the next night. So just a couple more minutes would work. There’s so many chances, it’s eventually going to go in.
“3-on-3 is great, I think. You want to end games on goals, plays and passes. The shootout is kind of… leave it for international hockey. That said, the shootout is an exciting moment. The build-up, it’s do or die, it’s going to happen or it’s not. There’s excitement to it. But 3-on-3 is so fun. It’s mayhem, and that’s really exciting for us as players.” – Montreal’s Jordan Weal
“I don’t know, it’s tough, I mean 3-on-3 is exhausting. We play six forwards and three D for the most part. Guys are usually dead tired, and goalies are dead tired by the end of the five minutes, so, I think extending it would be a little bit tough.” – Vegas’ Mark Stone
“Honestly, I think I like overtime. It’s exciting, it gets fans going. I have nothing to complain about. Obviously we don’t have a lot of success with it (overtime), so that is something we need to change.
“As for a longer overtime, it could be fun. It would be challenging but players adapt to every situation and we would find a way and adapt. Maybe take shorter shifts. It’s all the same, only longer. It’s still all about puck possession.” – Vegas’ Jonathan Marchessault
“I would rather stay with the shootout (after five minutes). It’s better for the goalies than three-on-three. Usually someone will score in that five minutes anyway. But now we can see teams are playing with structure, and it’s not as much fun. It would be better if you couldn’t go backwards with the puck.” – Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen
“I wouldn’t mind to play 10 minutes. It’s one of the most entertaining parts of the game for the crowd that comes here, and it’s fun to play too. It’s tough on the body for those top minute guys who are out there, but it’s entertaining for sure. And usually one of the teams would score.
“It depends on what team you’re asking. Obviously we have Connor and Leon, and they would probably want to play 25 minutes of three-on-three. But personally I think it’s good to play 10 minutes.” – Edmonton’s Oscar Klefbom
“You see how much the fans love it, and I think we love it almost just as much. It’s fun. If you went past the five minutes, it wouldn’t take long until there’s a goal because there are so many chances that happen. Once you get to a shootout, it’s kind of like a 50/50. How many two-on-ones are there in five minutes? I think in another five minutes, someone will score.” – Vancouver’s Brock Boeser
“Play three-on-three until there’s a winner. No shootout. At least the game ends on a hockey play.” – Vancouver’s Troy Stecher.
“It’s a tough call because I don’t like the shootout, but at least the game is over. Three-on-three, what I’d like to see is if there’s a penalty, play three-on-two instead of four-on-three. Then the game will end quick.” – Vancouver’s Brandon Sutter
“I’ve never been a fan of three-on-three. It’s exciting for the fans, but in the playoffs we don’t do it when it matters. So I’m fine with the way it is.” – San Jose’s Marc-Edouard Vlasic
“I think extending it would be good. I like three-on-three. I don’t think it would take too long (to score a winning goal) after five minutes.” – San Jose’s Patrick Marleau
With files from Wayne Scanlan, Mark Spector, Eric Francis, Eric Engels, Iain MacIntyre and Luke Fox.