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
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