NHL Penalty Shot: Changes Coming Soon?

Jason Lempert@MetsPride84Correspondent INovember 18, 2009

TORONTO - DECEMBER 23:  Olie Kolzig #37 of the Washington Capitals is beat on a penalty shot by Mats Sundin #13 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during their NHL game at the Air Canada Centre December 23, 2006 in Toronto, Ontario. The Capitals beat the Maple Leafs 3-2.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

I don't usually write about hockey, but I was watching a game the other night and one of the commentators made a rather interesting point.

While on the powerplay, a player on one of the teams (I fail to remember which teams were playing) was tripped up on a breakaway.  A penalty shot was immediately called for.

But why not let the team about to have the penalty shot choose between taking the shot or having the defensive team lose a man to the sin bin?

Think about it.

For the sake of example, imagine a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Washington Capitals (see picture above).  Now let's say that while on the powerplay, Mats Sundin (still a Leaf for this example) is hooked or tripped up on a breakaway. A penalty shot is called. But what if the Leafs would prefer to have a 2-man advantage for a lengthy period of time? Shouldn't that be an option for them, rather than being forced to have a player take a one-time penalty shot?

Or, imagine the tables were turned. What if the Capitals, on the penalty kill, have a player hooked on a breakaway?  They might prefer to send the penalized player to the box and create a 4-on-4.

Or maybe the defending goalie is on a roll and seems unstoppable at the moment. Why not give the coach a choice of what road to take?

Now, there would still be times when a team would rather employ the traditional penalty shot. Perhaps the player who was hooked has a great move one-on-one with the goalie. Or if it's late in a tight game, the coach may take his chances on the penalty shot.

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Much has been made over the last few weeks about changes to the game of hockey, as the GM meetings recently took place.  I wonder if someday this idea will be tossed around in one of those meetings.

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