The American Hockey League announced rule changes for the 2015-16 season, including a new playoff format and 3-on-3 overtime for five minutes.
The worst-kept-secret in hockey, the fact that the California teams will play 68 games, was also confirmed.
With the California five playing less games, the league will use points percentage to determine who reaches the playoffs. The formula for this is points earned divided by points available.
For Texas and San Antonio — and the rest of the non-California teams — their season-ending point total will be divided by 152. For the five Californian teams, their season-ending points will be divided by 136.
For example, Texas had 94 out of 152 potential points last season. That would be a point percentage of .618.
Here is the official release:
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors has concluded its 2015 Annual Meeting, held this week at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Chaired by AHL President and CEO David Andrews, the four days of meetings, which concluded Thursday, saw the approval by the Board of the following items to be implemented beginning in 2015-16:
• The 2015-16 regular season will consist of 1,120 games, played between Oct. 9 and Apr. 17. All teams will play 76 games each with the exception of the clubs which joined the AHL in January as part of the creation of a Pacific Division (Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton); those five teams will play 68 games each.
• Teams will receive two points for a win and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. The top four teams in each division ranked by points percentage (points earned divided by points available) will qualify for the 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs, with one exception in each conference: if the fifth-place team in the Atlantic or Central Division finishes with a better points percentage than the fourth-place team in the North or Pacific Division, it would cross over and compete in the other division’s bracket.
• The 2016 Calder Cup Playoffs will feature a divisional playoff format, leading to conference finals and ultimately the Calder Cup Finals.
• The division semifinals are best-of-five series; all subsequent rounds are best-of-seven.
Rule 85 (“Overtime”)
• During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period will be five minutes (5:00) in length.
• Full playing strength will be 3-on-3 (plus goaltenders) for the entire period.
• Overtime will be preceded by a “dry scrape” of the entire ice surface.
• Teams will change ends at the start of overtime.
• If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.
Rule 79 (“Video Review”)
• A team may use a “coach’s challenge” to initiate an official video review; only those situations which are subject to review by rule may be challenged.
• A team may only request a coach’s challenge if it has its timeout available, and the coach’s challenge must be effectively initiated prior to the resumption of play.
• If the coach’s challenge does not result in the original call on the ice being overturned, the team exercising such challenge will be charged with a timeout.
Rule 76.4 (“Face-offs”)
• For all face-offs (excluding center ice), the defending player shall place his stick on the ice first; for face-offs at center ice, the visiting player shall place his stick on the ice first.
In operation since 1936, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 88 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and for the 14th year in a row, more than 6 million fans attended AHL games across North America in 2014-15.