There are numerous, fundamental reasons why the NHL’s decision to move to a 3-on-3 is a flawed and misguided one, trying to solve a problem of their own creation. While sidestepping the history lesson, the NHL turned to the shootout to entice the casual fan, but then decided that they shouldn’t matter because it’s not real hockey. As a solution 3-on-3 still isn’t actual NHL hockey, but it does have a vague team aspect to it to resolve regular season games and avoiding shootouts, because removing shootouts entirely wasn’t an option. That the initiative is exceeding that low bar is empirically clear even about 20% of the way through the regular season.
Even the purists who align themselves with a solution that somehow loses the charity point that artificially inflates standings points (with 3 on 3 now doing so for individual scoring statistics) will through gritted teeth admit that 3 on 3 is at least exciting. But just because the situation is tense doesn’t mean that it’s actually well played or even a facsimile of the up and down pond hockey the flapping heads want to label it as.