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The Daily Chum: Let’s fix the penalty shot system in the NHL

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Rule breakers aren’t getting harshly enough.

San Jose Sharks v Los Angeles Kings - Game Five Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Chris Tierney jumped over the boards at 17:02 of the first period to help kill a minor penalty. He was on the ice for all of 16 seconds before being swapped out for Couture, albeit briefly.

Tierney came back on the ice at 17:18 and was on the ice until 18:02, at which point he broke free of the San Jose defensive zone and instead of getting a true breakaway opportunity on Ryan Miller was dragged back by the last man standing for Vancouver.

For his trouble, he was awarded a penalty shot. So after expending almost all the gas left in his tank, he had to try to go one-on-one with one of the better netminders in the NHL.

That’s a broken system. It rewards a defender for taking a calculated risk rather than rewarding a forward for making a great play. That’s one example, and there are other situations where a fresh defender rushing off the bench gets to take a penalty shot with rested legs, but this illustrates an issue with the way the NHL handles penalty shots.

I think it’s time for a change. Fans have, mostly jokingly, said teams should have the option to decline penalty shots for two-minute power plays. While intriguing, that doesn’t seem realistic. I’ve got a suggestion I can really sink my teeth into: Give teams the option to choose who takes the penalty shot, just like in soccer.

Any of the 11 players on the field can take a penalty kick in soccer. I don’t think it makes sense to restrict penalty shots to one of the five players on the ice in hockey, so let’s expand it to any of the skaters dressed for the game. That gives a little extra incentive for the defensive player to keep his hands to himself.

This likely lowers the number of penalty shots we see in the NHL, which I don’t particularly have a problem with, but it also increases the odds we actually see a penalty shot converted. Penalty shots aren’t supposed to be a get out of jail free card for defenders badly beaten by a forward on a rush, and it’s starting to feel like that’s the way they’re treated.

By giving the team awarded a penalty the ability to select a shooter, we give the beneficiary of a call the upper hand again. Right now the NHL isn’t punishing the perpetrators of an anti-offense penalty enough. This is a way to fix that.

What say you?