Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The NHL Goes Back To The Pond: How Do We Feel About 3-On-3?

The NHL Goes Back To The Pond: How Do We Feel About 3-On-3?

In case you hadn’t heard, the NHL is toying with the idea of moving toward a 3-on-3 format for its regular-season overtime in order to reduce the number of games decided by shootout. This is stupid idea, just as it was, is and always will be a stupid idea to have shootouts decide the outcome of games.

I understand that no one likes ties. We want to see a winner declared in our sporting events, not a stalemate after 60-65 minutes of play. But there’s a difference between suffering through a tie and fundamentally changing the way a game is played.

The NHL has already tinkered with removing players from the ice. Partly due to a desire to open up the game, in regular-season overtimes teams play with just four skaters as opposed to the normal five. Now the league wants to move to 3-on-3. And if that doesn’t work, why not move down to 2-on-2? Or what about a shootout!?! Oh wait…

There is a vast difference between playing 5-on-5 and 3-on-3 to the point in which the game simply is not same, just as a 3-on-3 game of basketball, while fun, isn’t used in the NBA to decide games because it becomes a different contest then. In fact, none of the other major sports decides to change the number of players on the field just to liven up overtime. The NFL doesn’t play 7-on-7 in overtime. Baseball doesn’t take away a couple fielders in extra innings. And even soccer doesn’t go to 8-on-8 in extra time. Players are only sent off with red cards or two yellows.

Hockey is meant to be played 5-on-5 (skaters, that is). It’s the very basis of the sport. Tinkering with rules to improve the game will always happen, but reducing the numbers of players alters the foundation of the game. Removing one skater from each side was bad enough, but taking away two players aside turns NHL hockey into something completely different.

I understand that players like it. I understand that fans may get excited over this. But I just can’t get on board. Is it better than the shootout deciding games? Sure. But that doesn’t mean it’s best. Two wrongs don’t make a right — they make for a different game entirely.

My solution? Bring back ties. Yes, I hate them, just like I hate neckties, but I’m a traditionalist at heart. Go back to ties, remove the automatic one point for reaching overtime (no team that loses should be rewarded with a point) and bring back hockey that actually resulted in full games of real hockey. -The Rev