CEDAR PARK — If Texas Stars coach Derek Laxdal is endorsing the 3-on-3 overtime format, the NHL probably should take notice.
Laxdal’s team has set an American Hockey League record for overtime futility this season, posting a 2-13 record. The Stars have been even worse when it reaches the 3-on-3 format at the first stoppage of play after three minutes, going 0 for 6 and only escaping to a shootout twice.
Even with that track record, Laxdal gave 3-on-3 play a ringing endorsement after Texas’ 3-2 shootout victory against the Lake Erie Monsters on Tuesday, which featured a hectic overtime filled with the teams trading odd-man rushes.
“If the NHL wants to watch 3-on-3, I thought tonight was a classic example,” Laxdal said after the win. “How do you not get excited for that? Can you imagine the talent pool in the National Hockey League playing that?”
The NHL’s general managers are taking notice as shootouts in the AHL have decreased.
Last season 64.7 percent of AHL games that went to overtime reached a shootout. After implementation of the new 3-on-3 rule, that number has dropped to 23.7 percent this season.
With those numbers, it hasn’t become an “if” question, but rather a “how” 3-on-3 overtime will be implemented in the NHL during this week’s general managers meetings in Boca Raton.
On Tuesday, NHL commissioner Garry Bettman said the league’s general managers planned to consider two 3-on-3 formats this week during meetings in Florida. One would mirror the AHL’s seven-minute hybrid approach while the other would go straight to five minutes of 3-on-3 play.
If a 3-on-3 format ultimately gains approval from the NHL’s board of governors, it would be the first major change to the league’s overtime format since the addition of the shootout before the 2005-06 season.