Pittsburgh Penguins NHL hockey team general manager Jim Rutherford, left, smiles as he talks to NHL executive Colin Campbell after the first day of general managers meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., Monday, March 16, 2015. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Alan Diaz
March 17, 2015

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) Three-on-three play in overtime is getting a nod from NHL general managers, although a format decision and final approval are still needed.

The GMs devised two options related to overtime: a switch to three-on-three play for five minutes that the Swedish Hockey League employs or a four-on-four to three-on-three approach similar to the American Hockey League.

The recommendations will go to the joint NHL/NHLPA competition committee, which meets in June and must approve any rule changes.

That committee also will consider the other recommendation from general managers of instituting a coach's challenge system for goaltender interference. If it goes through, coaches will be able to challenge goalie interference only on goals scored and only if they have their timeout left.

The AHL increased their overtime play to seven minutes, starting out with four-on-four play until the first whistle after three minutes of play. The remainder of the overtime is then played as three-on-three.

While the NHL understands shootouts are popular with fans, the league would like more games going beyond regulation to be decided in overtime.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who confirmed the general managers were unified in switching to either the Swedish Hockey League or AHL overtime format, acknowledged shootouts are here to stay.

''The consensus in the room, overwhelmingly, is we're not getting rid of the shootout,'' Bettman said. ''It was how do you reduce the number of games that go to the shootout, keep the shootout special.

''We're going to discuss with the competition committee because, obviously, we want the players' association input on how we're going to approach it.''

Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland, a proponent for an overtime change, has no doubt a new rule will finally take hold.

''We're going to take it to the competition committee, basically see what the players feel about it,'' he said. ''But we're going to make a change.''

As for goalie interference, if the coach challenge is incorrect, he'll lose his timeout.

Officials on the ice as well as in the NHL situation room in Toronto will view video to determine the correct call. There will be no penalty component to the coach's challenge.

''We ultimately concluded that we had to do something on goaltender interference that was different because it's a judgment call,'' Bettman said. ''We would show video in this (meeting) room and 17 managers would think it was goaltender interference and 13 would say it wasn't and the level of conclusiveness if you were going to create a standard was so narrow that there would be one or two instances that you could review.''

Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon been pushing for a coach's challenge rule for years and was happy the issue finally received traction.

''It's about time,'' he said. ''I got voted down 28-2 four years ago and today it was 29-1 in favor.''

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