Exploring how the NHL can adjust 3v3 overtime with an added rule for possession

The NHL offseason can be a long and uneventful wait for fans, especially after the draft and free agency. That being said, we’re going to take a look at how to bolster more interest in the game with rule changes.

With training camp starting, this marks the final edition of our rule change proposals. Throughout the offseason, we’ve discussed changes to penalty and overtime formats, offsides, and proposed the NHL consider implementing an in-season tournament or a relegation format.

Our final edition will look at overtime once again. But, this time around we’ll be discussing a brand new rule strictly designed for 3v3 overtime.

Cat and mouse

3v3 overtime is great at adding more excitement to the game. The change in the game’s extra regulation period has been beneficial for shortening games and decreasing the amount of shootouts.

Furthermore, the majority of fans seem very receptive to the format and enjoy the new All-Star Game format that’s entirely 3v3.

However, there’s a caveat to the perfection that is the 3v3 overtime format. It’s the same aspect that makes it so enjoyable.

The space.

3v3 has been dominated recently in a cat-and-mouse-like regard, with possession dominating play. Players can be seen parading around the offensive zone waiting patiently for openings to appear in the defence. With so much of the NHL game being played off the rush these days, players willingly carry the puck outside the offensive end to reset and attack with speed.

That’s where our new rule comes into play.

Removing the reset

We’re proposing that anytime a player carries the puck outside of the opposition’s zone, the play is whistled dead.

The call would be treated similarly to an intentional offside call. Meaning when the play is whistled dead, the faceoff occurs in the opposite zone.

The rule would combat those lulls in overtime periods and it wouldn’t eliminate the ability to exit the opposing team’s zone entirely. The puck could be passed over the blue line if teams wanted to cycle a line change or organize a rush.

Consider it a reverse offside in every sense of the term.

The effect

The goal of implementing the rule is to reduce those lulled, slowdown sequences in overtime when teams exit the offensive zone to regroup or change lines and attack off the rush.

I can understand why teams do it, but it’s the opposite of what we want with a 3v3 format. With only five minutes of 3v3 play you want it to be back and forth, turnovers, odd-man rushes, and chance after chance.

We don’t want to see players parade around with the puck and treat overtime like a game of cat and mouse.

Should we expect to see the reverse offside?


It’s an out-there idea and I highly doubt the NHL would consider something like this. But, that’s what this series has been about, imagining the game differently than it’s played today.

Realistic or not, trying to predict how a rule would impact today’s NHL is thought-provoking and interesting.

It has been for me at least.

Hopefully, the Flames won’t need any new rules to tilt the ice in their favour and bounce back to a competitive role in the Pacific Division this season.

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