Detroit general manager Ken Holland is one of the best at his job. Whatever a general manager needs to do to build a winner - make savvy trades or signings, draft diamonds-in-the-rough, and whatever else - Holland gets it done. It's hard to find fault in anything he does.
But I don't agree with his new overtime proposal.
For those who don't know, Holland suggests four minutes of four-on-four overtime followed by four minutes of three-on-three. The aim is to eliminate, or at least limit, shootouts whenever possible.
I don't know why he doesn't simply propose to get rid of shootouts and bring back ties. He's recognizing there's a problem, but instead of seeking to eliminate it outright, he wants some fancy, unnecessary solution. I must be in the minority, but I don't have an adverse hatred of ties. Maybe I need to find some soccer people and ask if they hate ties too. Otherwise, ties work in that sport, the world's most popular, I don't know why hockey hates them now.
My issue though isn't with shootouts and stay-or-go. It's the three-on-three overtime. I see a lot of experts writing, thinking, feeling that three-on-three is awesomely, tremendously, supercalifragilisticexpialidociously exciting. I question whether this is actually true.
I love Center Ice and watch a lot of hockey. I saw four games last season that because of penalties featured three-on-three overtime. In three of those instances, that three-on-three action was among some of the most boring hockey I've ever witnessed. Worse than a typical Devils game. The fourth was better but still not even close to being the MOST AWESOMEST BESTEST EXCITINGEST THING EVAR!!11!!
Three-on-three is great and fun and exciting when it's used in the Young Stars game at the All-Star break, when nothing is on the line and the point of the spectacle - for it is a spectacle, not real hockey - is sheer entertainment, and the players wanting to show off their stuff.
When points, wins and playoff spots are on the line, I bet it's going to be a little different. First, there's no real hockey to be played. There's no system, defensive or forechecking. It's basically one-on-one defensive coverage, stick-with-your-man-and-don't-let-him-out-of-your-sight, and hope for some kind of breakdown while hoping your team doesn't have a breakdown.
Reducing overtime to six skaters is just a further bastardization of the game.
I admit the instances I watched with three-on-three is a very small sample size. And maybe those three games were the exception. Maybe normally it is entertaining. Maybe, just maybe, I'm WRONG. (Shocking, I know.)
But I sure hope, if this idea continues to gain steam as it supposedly is, that the NHL tests this in the AHL first to make sure it's actually worthwhile. And I hope it's an unmitigated disaster.
I would rather see a rule like if a team, holding a one-goal lead, takes a penalty with under two minutes remaining in the third period, it has to serve the entire penalty regardless of how much time is left in regulation. This could even be applied to the last two minutes of overtime as well.
I'll admit I came up with the idea after the Penguins lost a game in which they had a power play in the final minute of regulation and didn't get to use the full two minutes (not that it would've mattered), but I think it's still more valid than three-on-three overtime.
I'll also grant that my idea might be pretty dumb, and I'd still prefer it to extra overtime.