Four-on-four is out and three-on-three is in as the NHL will make a change to overtime for next season.
Following approval from the board of governors Wednesday, overtime will be three-on-three instead of four-on-four for the full five-minute period. The aim is to have more games decided in overtime and reduce the number of shootouts.
Players preferred that instead of the AHL format — three minutes of three-on-three followed by four-on-four until the end of a seven-minute period — according to Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland.
"Basically our feeling was that whatever the players wanted we were comfortable with, and that's basically what we agreed to today," Holland said Tuesday. "We want a higher percentage of games determined in overtime, and we think three-on-three is going to do it."
Last season, 170 games (13.82 per cent) went to the shootout. In 2013-14, 178 games (14.47 per cent) went to the shootout.
"I think there's too many shootouts, and the three-on-three, as much as the fans like the shootouts, they're really going to like the three-on-three," Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers said.
GMs agreed in March to recommend some sort of overtime change, and players had their say at the competition committee meeting earlier this month. That committee did not reach a consensus, so there was more conversation leading up to this week before three-on-three was the decision.
"We think it's a good thing," Brad Treliving of the Calgary Flames said. "It highlights the skill in the game, so we'll see how it goes."
The board of governors is expected to green-light three-on-three overtime as well as a coach's challenge system for goals scored on goaltender interference and offside plays. A coach will be able to use a challenge only if he has his timeout left, but not in the final minute of regulation or overtime as those decisions will be decided by the referees.
"It gives us more satisfaction that the referees get a second look at a play that might be controversial," Bryan Murray of the Ottawa Senators said. "I'm sure they're not always going to be to our satisfaction, but at least it's a chance now to get it more often correct than ever in the past."
GMs on Tuesday also learned that the salary cap will be US$71.4 million and the floor $52.8 million for next season.
"I had heard rumours it was going to be lower," Holland said. "I think it's a little higher than I'd expected, but it was a tight window regardless."
Expansion was not on the docket for GMs, but there was a sense of pride that the long-talked-about overtime changes are almost set.
"I believe that three-on-three is going to be as entertaining as a shootout and maybe more entertaining because it's going to be team concept," Holland said. "There's going to be breakdowns, two-on-ones, I think there's going to be some breakaways involved on three-on-three."