Thursday, 8 December 2011

Hockey Or Soccer - Its Getting Tough To Tell

Over the first couple of months this season it seems that diving is getting worse and worse in the NHL. As soon as a player feels a stick through their equipment, especially anywhere near the ankles, they take a swim. It's starting to make hockey look like a joke... It's starting to make hockey look like soccer...

To make matters slightly worse, there have been no stand alone diving penalties this year. If a referee deemed that a player dove, they also called the opposing player for a penalty (trip, hook etc.). This tells players that theres no reason NOT to dive. The worst case scenario when you dive is that you both get a penalty so you don't hurt your team's chances at winning at all. The best case scenario is that you draw the opposing penalty without being called for diving.

Yesterday Chris Neil of the Ottawa Senators was called for diving. Shortly after laying a hard bodycheck on Alexander Ovechkin they both skated back up the ice before Neil went down holding his gut and was called for diving. At a second glance we see Ovechkin spear Neil in the stomach and thats why Neil went down. It's hard to say if Neil embellished at all but it would seem that Ovechkin should have had the only penalty. In actual fact Washington went on the powerplay.

I hope this "bad" call doesn't make the NHL afraid to call more diving penalties. Frankly, I don't mind this call at all. Despite the fact that it was completely the wrong call, it does send a message that the referees will call diving penalties that may result in your team being on the PK. I think the players who skate around the ice waiting to dive might have second thoughts the next time they feel a stick around their foot. Or at least I hope so, otherwise I might have to trade my Leafs tickets for Toronto FC tickets.