Ryan Kesler has taken some .giftastic heat for diving lately, given the barrel roll he executed after a mutual tie-up with Mike Richards in the playoffs. He’s not the only person to earn this reputation though: recently Brad Marchand and Every Other Canuck have recieved similar criticisms.
Fans are upset, because apparently diving has become the hockey equivalent of animal abuse (I’m going off Twitter comments here).
I’m not so sure it’s as awful as it’s been made out to be (the diving part, I mean), which is that it’s The World’s Most Amoral Thing.
I didn’t dive a lot when I played. That sentence, by the way, is a lot different than the sentence “I never took a dive as a player.” “Embellishment” (as diving is known in your head when you play), has to happen sometimes. There’s no tougher sport to referee on the planet than hockey, and as a player, you want to help the Zebras out. …Not out of goodwill, of course, but out of self-interest.
If you’re being held, you want your team to benefit (as you always do), and if you don’t go down it’s nearly impossible to get the call. How many times do we see a ref recognize a player being held, the player fight through it and stay on his skates, and the ref throw his arm in the air? Once a month? What’s the reward there?
There are two refs on the ice in the NHL, and 12 players. They can’t see everything, and the game happens fast. They aren’t morons; again, you simply can’t see everything around you.
So when you get fouled in a particularly egregious manner, work hard to stay upright, and have it missed, it’s annoying. Actually, it feels unfair. It’s really easy to convince yourself that, “Had I just gone down, that would have been called a penalty and we’d be on the powerplay.”
So the next time it happens…yeah.
Obstruction, in particular, is the worst. They get called roughly no-percent of the time, save for when they’re so blatant a guy is knocked to the ice, and most NHLers could stay standing on skates if a buffalo rammed them at full speed.
So….go to the ice.
I’m not saying it’s admirable. I’m not saying people should do it. I’m just saying that when the games are the most important to your team (playoffs), sometimes “the right thing” is to help your team win. Winning’s never hurt anyone’s paycheck.
So, it happens. I don’t think Kesler, Marchand or whoever are bad dudes. I just think they’re hockey players who want to win badly. It’s not whining or crying to do everything you can to help The Boys win. It actually takes a measure of focus to be that aware of the situation. It’s better than not giving a damn.
Guys are doing everything they can to earn that “W” - I don’t support it as a habit, but in playoffs, I understand why the topic is often at the forefront.