NEW YORK – The National Hockey League rolled out its new 3-on-3 overtime this preseason, and Gary Bettman is cautiously happy about the early returns.
“It’s pretty much what we expected, but we’ll see what the regular season is like,” said the commissioner, after the NHL Board of Governors meeting in New York on Tuesday.
There have been 44 exhibition games that featured the 3-on-3, either through the game ending in a regulation tie or because of an NHL-mandated “automatic” 3-on-3 after select games.
Bettman said 33 of those games have ended with a goal before proceeding to the shootout – 75 percent of them, the exact number that ended in overtime when the American Hockey League had a seven-minute 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 format last season. (The NHL’s 3-on-3 is for five minutes, and there is no 4-on-4.)
The NHL is finding its overtime games ending quickly in the 3-on-3 as well: They’re lasting an average of 2 minutes and 49 seconds.
So far, Bettman said, the NHL Board of Governors had no negative feedback on the gimmick.
“People are pleased with the early returns. We’ll see how it goes in the regular season, when coaching strategies are employed to deal with it,” he said.
When asked if he sees the 3-on-3 this season as a test run or an experiment, Bettman said he sees it going beyond 2015-16.
“If it works the way we anticipate it will, it won’t be an experiment,” he said.
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