If you’ve read my previous articles or follow me on social media, then you’ll know I abhor the shootout as a way of deciding a hockey game. I’d much rather settle for a tie or revamp the overtime period to provide what I would view a hockey winner rather than a skills contest.
During the recent four day meeting the AHL discussed amongst other things the rule changes for the following season and came up with a surprising change to deciding games tied after the regulation 60 minutes.
Rule 85 (“Overtime”)
During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period will be seven minutes (7:00) in length, preceded by a “dry scrape” of the entire ice surface.
Teams will change ends at the start of overtime.
Full playing strength will be 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play (4:00 remaining), at which time full strength will be reduced to 3-on-3 for the duration of the overtime period.
If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.
I confess I did not see such a radical change coming but I applaud the AHL’s board of governors for this enterprising idea. With almost a quarter of regulation season games going to extra hockey and an overall 15.6% being decided in the shootout last season, perhaps this is what provided the catalyst.
The shootout is also being scaled down for the five shooters to three, which will now mirror the NHL.
From the various media outlets reporting this story, the general consensus is that this new overtime rule is the work of the AHL of it’s own back, rather than a test for the NHL, but if it’s deemed a success by the league, teams and fans then perhaps the NHL may follow suit.
Two other rules were also approved and are as follows:
Rule 20.4 (“Major Penalties”)
An automatic game misconduct will be applied to any player who has been assessed two major penalties for fighting or three major penalties for any infraction in the same game.
Rule 9.6 (“Helmets”)
A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play will be assessed a minor penalty unless he immediately (a) exits the playing surface or (b) puts the helmet back on with the chin strap properly fastened.
Both seem sensible decisions in my eyes and hopefully the former will eliminate the goon faction that does rear it’s head from time to time in the league.