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2015-16 NHL rule changes explained

From overtime to expanded video review; a lot will change for the 2015-16 season.

Dave Sandford/Getty Images


On Tuesday we learned overtime would become a 5 minute 3-on-3. Here are the actual mechanics of how it will work with regards to penalties:

If a team ends the 3rd period on a 5-on-4 power play, it will continue in overtime as a 4-on-3 power play. A 5-on-3 power play at the end of regulation will continue in overtime as a 5-on-3.

Taking a penalty during the overtime period will have the same result. The team on the power play will ice an extra skater to create a 4-on-3.

There will not be any situation where a team has fewer than 3 skaters on the ice.

After the 5 minute overtime period is over, teams will continue with the shootout as they have since 2005.

This change is for the pre-season, and regular season only. Overtime in the playoffs will continue to be 5-on-5.

Expanded Video Review and the Coach’s Challenge

The "coach's challenge' will be available for two scenarios: goals on off-side plays; and goals, or waived off goals where there is a dispute regarding goal-tending interference.

Here are the mechanics of the challenge:

To initiate a challenge, a team essentially places a timeout on the line. This means the team must have one timeout left to even initiate the challenge (exception as elaborated below). If you don't have a timeout you simply can't do it.

When a team initiates the challenge, the referees will head to the operations bench and confer with the video review team in Toronto. If the official's on-ice call stands, the team that initiated the challenge will lose the timeout. If the official's on-ice call is overturned, the team will retain the timeout.

In the last minute of regulation, and at any point in overtime, all plays that could be challenged will be automatically reviewed. It will not be necessary for a team to even make the challenge, however if a team thinks officials missed a situation that should have initiated a review, they can still make a challenge but without the risk of losing their timeout.

Note that the challenge is available for only the above scenarios. It is not available to request a review of any penalties, or any other scenario where the puck does not cross the goal line.


There is also a minor change to how face-offs work.

The defending player will now always put their stick down first, followed by the attacking player, except for face-offs at center ice, where the visiting player will put their stick down first.

This is a change from the current rule which says the visiting player always puts their stick down first at any face-off.

If you would like to see the rule amendments in their official written form, they are on here.