3-on-3 league set to debut in June 2021
The National Hockey League’s 3-on-3 five-minute overtime period has been a smash hit with fans since it was adopted in 2015.
Now, a 3-on-3 league called “3ICE” is set to debut in June 2021.
The league, which plans to play across North America, has already announced eight coaches, including Hall of Famer and former Red Wings defenseman Larry Murphy, who is now a television analyst for the team’s games on FOX Sports Detroit.
The other coaches include former NHL stars Grant Fuhr, Brian Trottier, Guy Carbonneau, Joe Mullen and John Le
Clair along with former NHL goaltender Ed Johnston and four-time Olympian Angela Ruggiero.
Fuhr, Trottier, Carbonneau and Mullen are also in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Johnston’s son, E.J., is the league’s CEO and founder; the commissioner is Craig Patrick, who was Herb Brooks’ assistant coach on the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” Olympic gold medal team.
"We’re anticipating that we’re going to be able to have a lot of exciting hockey," Patrick said, "even more than the NHL’s overtime format, because we’re going to go for a lot of speed and skill throughout, and we’re going to look at different rules that enable that to happen more frequently in our game. It’s just an exciting venture for me."
The NHL All-Star Game also features the 3-on-3 format.
The new league will consist of 56 players — eight teams of seven individuals, with six skaters and one goaltender per squad.
According to E.J. Johnston, the players will be typically small with speed and puck skills. They will range in age from the mid-20s to early 30s, and many will have with NHL pedigrees.
“If the NHL was overtime all the time, they’d still be playing in the league," Johnston said. "The creativity is really what we’re looking for.”
Patrick said the goalies will need to fit that mold, too, since they will be handling the puck more often than they are accustomed to in a regular hockey game.
The 3Ice schedule begins in June and lasts nine weeks. All eight teams will travel to a different city in the Midwest, northeastern U.S. and Canada for seven-game tournaments in each city. Currently 15-20 cities or metropolitan areas are being considered.
"We want the fans to chime in and make the case for their city," Johnston said. "So if we get an overwhelming response in Columbus or Pittsburgh or Erie or Toronto, that will obviously tip the scales."
Each game will be two eight-minute halves with a running clock. Face-offs are discouraged. There are no penalties, only penalty shots.
"We're out to promote and sell hockey at its purest," Trottier said.
"It's gonna have its audience," he added. "In today’s wham-bam attention span world, I think the quickness, the idea of multiple games, the idea of short periods, action action, boom boom, it’s gonna grab a lot of eyeballs."
3ICE has partnered with TSN in Canada and CBS Sports in the U.S. to broadcast games.