With the NHL's Research & Development Camp that just wrapped up. The league looked at numerous different rule changes that the league could implement sometime within the next few years.
One of the biggest items of discussions is how to reduce the number of shootouts after the 5 Minute 4-on-4 OT that's been going on since the league returned from the Lockout back in 2005.
However, 2 of the Canadian Jr. A Leagues in both British Columbia & Alberta are already looking to take the lead in the OT Rules as the BCHL introduced theirs last year while the Alberta Junior Hockey League will be doing it this year.
AJHL OT & SO Format
Should the NHL Adopt the BCHL OT Format?
The question is not just about reducing the shootout, but which format is better?
When the BCHL introduced theirs last year, they made theirs a combo of both a 4-on-4 and a 3-on-3 as the BCHL is going to have a 5 minute 4-on-4 period, then if it's still tied, a 5 minute 3-on-3 to open up ice and give teams better chances to score and win the game.
However, the BCHL is one of the few leagues left anywhere in the world that doesn't go to the tie-breaker shootout (The NCAA Among them as well).
One of the big pluses on this format is that you can implement different strategies with a both 4-on-4 and a 3-on-3 as well. However, they seems to be a lot of issues that can up such as if a fighting major erupts or how will power plays turn over from the 1st to the 2nd overtime period.
Could you actually have a 3-on-2? That would be spell doom for Penalty Killing Teams and its just doesn't look like real hockey because that would give the defending team near impossible odds of killing the penalty and coming back from it.
On the other hand, the split format has been working as according to Shawn Mullin who does play-by-play for the BCHL's Trail Smoke Eaters, only 7 games ended in ties last year (BCHL Doesn't do the Shootout).
With the 10 Minute format, it not only seems to be working, but it doesn't have a lot of gimmicks at all like the shootout has been at times.
The Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) will be introducing their 3-on-3 OT Rules this season as the league will dive right in and won't have many chances of stopping opposing offenses from looking to win the game in the extra frame. Like the BCHL, the AJHL didn't have the shootout to break ties, they were 14 tied games last year with the Camrose Kodiaks leading the way with 4.
However, the Tied Game is a thing of the past with the Shootout coming into play this year. During the preseason which gets underway tonight, every game will have a shootout so teams can practice it and get used to take a look at which players could be used and ones to leave out of the shootout.
With no experience using the SO, it will be hard to tell how the teams will do, but with the AJHL keeping the 5 minute format, I would expect a few more SO's then something like the BCHL.
If the Number of Shootout Games is a little bit high, maybe something like increasing the length of OT Minutes to perhaps to something like 8-10 minutes to decide games during the regular season.
One of the big concerns with 3-on-3 could be that teams could still be to Conservative to protect the goalie and the blueline from getting shots on goal. As for possible strong points, they will be no chance to get used to the new rules and teams will be forced to dive right in to the OT Rules.
I'm going to be checking both of these very closely and when the Canadian Jr. A League Regular Season wraps up in March! I will provide stats and a better opinion on which way the NHL should maybe go to.
But for now, I think the AJHL gets the nod for me because the OT periods would be shorter and more non stop action to make games more exciting and provide winners before games get to the shootout. This will force teams to be more attack minded and with just 6 players on the ice at the most, they is no excuses for teams to be defensive minded to get the game to the shootout.
The problem with the BCHL is that they may treat the 4-on-4 period to much on the defensive side to set up a chance to play in the 3-on-3 OT Period. It will be interesting to see which format wins out this upcoming season when both the BCHL & AJHL Seasons starts up on September 10.
Be sure to check out with updates during the year to compare the 2 leagues during the season.
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