Watching the San Jose-Detroit game on Sunday night was entertaining, but probably not for the reason it should have been. True, watching the Red Wings heroics was incredible, as every time they seemed down, they got back up and rallied hard, seemingly while nobody was looking. Magic from Datsyuk was clearly the difference-maker on the night, as he one-handedly took his team onto his shoulders and led them to a win in what should have been an elimination game. But the heroics, as they often are, were overshadowed by theatrics and the Oscar goes to Joe Thornton for this one.
A couple of funny things came to mind when he went down last night on the Franzen penalty.
1- What does his face have to do with a hit on his shin?
2- Wait, did he just turtle completely?
3-Franzen looks pissed.
4- Is Thornton laughing?
The whole incident pretty much comes down to this: Thornton was acting up in order to give his team an advantage. It happens all of the time, but this act was as blatant as a soccer penalty. You know the kind that I’m referring to: player goes down like he’s been shot by an AK-47 on a nearby rooftop while the opposing player looks confused because he had, at best, limited contact. And as my first logical thought had crossed my mind, yes, indeed, there was no connection whatsoever to his head when he took Franzen’s stick to the shin, unless you count the possible mental anguish of such an action which surely gave him cause to cover his face with both hands and turtle on the ground as if something had just exploded in his chest.
The reaction from the league has been predictable. Colin Campbell is yet again talking a big game: http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Video-Joe-Thornton-8217-s-Best-Actor-nominatio?urn=nhl-wp4457
But the fact of the matter is, we all know how reliable Colin Campbell’s words are and his random 2-4 game suspensions have done little to deter anyone in the league from committing any type of offense (Matt Cooke anyone?) and diving is probably the most aggravating and least physically dangerous of these calls. If the league can’t handle head shots, they can’t handle a petty annoyance like diving which is unpredictable at best. Who knows what will trigger a dive and when? Who knows which player will take it upon themselves to crumble like cookie crumbs when things start to look grim? And the very thought of the NHL calling together its brightest minds to sit in a conference room and discuss intent when it comes to diving makes me want to dig a hole somewhere and crawl into it.
Maybe the decision will be made to only call the east-west dives and not the north-south ones. Maybe it will depend if the player leaves their feet for the dive. Or maybe the rule will apply to all of the teams except for the Bruins.
The whole diving incident draws attention back to the fact that the NHL’s discipline system is a joke. It’s failed to be respected by the players and by extension, the fans. Nobody takes them seriously anymore and teams are just going to keep in that old-fashioned playground mentality of figuring out just what they can get away with and then doing it. Repeatedly. It’s time for Campbell to back up his fighting words with some action, if ever he wants to be taken seriously in this league.
While the refs watch the players for dives, we’ll be watching Campbell to see if he makes good on his word.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.