There's no room for embellishing or diving in hockey. Aside from the fact that NHL officials have a hard enough time trying to figure out what's happening on the ice without theatrics, hockey players have always been lauded as being tough, rugged warriors - not divers.
In Tuesday's game between Ottawa and Buffalo, Erik Karlsson demonstrated exactly what the NHL needs to crack down on. As Karlsson circled his own net, Buffalo's Patrick Kaleta's stick tapped / brushed Karlsson on the back, crumpling the young defenseman as if he'd been hacked to the ground by a mighty blow. Kaleta received two minutes for high-sticking (what?) from the official standing approximately 10 feet from the scene of the "crime".
While you ponder why the call was high-sticking and why a gentle tap was enough to send a grown man down in a heap, consider the problem this presents the NHL. This isn't the first time an NHL player has taken a dive. However, it's troubling when the dive comes from one of game's youngest stars. There's concern over the precedent it sets and concern over how a call like this can shape a game.
What can the NHL do about dives like this? Simple. Aside from needing NHL officials on the ice to recognize it and hand out two-minute penalties as needed (Dream on), the NHL disciplinary panel needs to take action. Whether that means fines or suspensions is up for them to decide, but there needs to be some sort of consequence for theatrics and embellishment so that it doesn't become a bigger issue.
I'm not hating on Karlsson. Diving is a much larger issue and he's just the most recent example. The NHL would be wise to focus their efforts on preventing theatrics as opposed to putting so much focus on these ridiculous new interference rules.
Update: In the interest of fairness, one reader sent over this video which shows Kaleta's stick making some contact with the back of Karlsson's helmet. I'm not convinced the reaction is completely warranted, but it does explain the high-sticking call and it does at least explain some of Karlsson's actions.
(H/T Reddit Hockey)
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@FrozenNotes As a result of it pulling away from the side of his head u know it nicked him in the ear or neck. And if so would u not flinch?
@FrozenNotes It's hard 2 see cuz the stick is on the other side of the head. However, it pulls away beside the head. http://t.co/zMAm8Y8x
@davidsens65 Any chance you can put that on YouTube so I can embed it in the post? The yfrog version isn't cooperating with the site.
@FrozenNotes Cool! Yeah he buckled pretty hard. Guess when he felt that he wanted to duck away from it but the movement was pretty large.
@davidsens65 Exactly. Still not convinced there isn't embellishment, but video does the best job of showing some reaction was warranted.