New hockey league 3ICE to feature eight Hall of Fame coaches

Sporting News

3ICE, a new three-on-three hockey league, will be arriving next summer — and it has already assembled a world-class group of coaches.

On Wednesday, the league announced that it has agreed to deals with eight head coaches for the season starting in 2021. The list consists of Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, Ed Johnston, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero and Bryan Trottier.

The eight coaches collectively have 28 Stanley Cup titles, 29 All-Star Game appearances and five Olympic medals between them. Six of the eight — Carbonneau, Fuhr, Mullen, Murphy, Ruggiero and Trottier — are also members of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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3ICE President and CEO E.J. Johnston made the announcement in a press release along with league commissioner Craig Patrick. Johnston is the son of Penguins' front office member Eddie Johnston, who won two Stanley Cups as a goaltender for the Boston Bruins and three as an advisor for the Penguins, while the Hall of Famer Patrick was an assistant coach on Herb Brooks' gold medal-winning 1980 USA Olympic team and won back-to-back Cups as the Penguins GM in 1991-92.

The league will feature a three-on-three format similar to the NHL's overtime system. Teams will consist of seven players — six skaters and a goalie — along with one head coach. The eight teams will not be franchises located in specific cities, but rather will travel around the country together to contest bracket-style tournaments in a different location each week. The locations have not yet been determined, although there is reportedly a shortlist of over a dozen cities across the Northeastern US, Midwest and Canada.

"We’re anticipating that we’re going to be able to have a lot of exciting hockey," Patrick told USA Today, "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."

It's still unclear which players will be involved, but Johnston said they'll be fast, skilled, NHL-caliber athletes.

"These guys will have NHL pedigree. If the NHL was overtime all the time, they’d still be playing in the league," Johnston also said to USA Today. "The creativity is really what we’re looking for.”

3ICE is scheduled to begin next June, with the season consisting of 60 games spread out over nine tour stops.

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