The 3-on-3 overtime format in the American Hockey League has dramatically reduced the number of godforsaken shootouts we have to watch, which is obviously great news for lovers of actual hockey.
Are there concerns about that format – 4-on-4 for three minutes, followed by 3-on-3 following the first whistle after that, for a total of seven minutes – successfully transferring to the NHL? Absolutely. It could be an ultra-conservative snooze, as teams cut down on any odd-man chances by playing methodically. It hasn’t necessarily been like that in the AHL, but who knows?
The NHLPA has a different concern, which is the health of the players.
"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," NHL Players' Association executive Mathieu Schneider told USA TODAY Sports.
"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," Schneider said. "I'm not sure we would see the same results at the NHL level."
Schneider went as far to say that he assumed that the NHLPA would oppose any increase in the number of minutes for overtime – a whole two more minutes! – because of that wear and tear.
So, in summary:
1. The same NHLPA that recently hosted a joint press conference to announce a preseason exhibition tournament in 2016 that would cut into training camp, as well as other potential tournaments overseas in subsequent preseasons that one assumes will feature "top guys," believes that extra wear and tear on players is a bad thing.
2. The same NHLPA that hasn’t said word one about changing an overtime format that has players sometimes playing an extra 60 minutes of hockey in the playoffs, after an 82-game regular season, believes that extra wear and tear on players is a bad thing.
3. As we’ve seen in the playoffs annually, fatigued players equals offensive chances equals goals scored in the 3-on-3 equals the games ending.
It’s a weird preventive strike from the NHLPA. Yes, it’s an extra two shifts during what could be hockey played at hyperspeed; but isn’t that better than a skills competition determining who gets to play in that three-OT playoff game? Think of the children.
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