This blog is a project with Tyler, a good friend of mine, who is a blogger from hockeydigest.com. You can follow him at twitter at http://twitter.com/nhldigest
. I highly recommend you follow him; he has a great hockey mind.
I am tired of the diving, especially in the playoffs. What drives me nuts is the inconsistency in calling the penalty. So here's the question:
Is diving in the NHL ruining the game?
Diving has certainly been more pronounced in the NHL over the last couple of years. Growing up watching hockey in the 1980's, I don't remember embellishment being an issue. Maybe I need to go back and watch some more game tape to look for it, but I can't recall players being called 'divers' or accused of embellishing. I'm sure it happened from time to time, but I think it is certainly more pronounced in today's game.
I also believe that with the advances in video technology, the quality, frequency, and number of camera angles that we get in 'slo-mo' , 'fast-mo', and all other kinds of 'mo' can give us a glimpse of embellishment that may have gone undetected in real time. If you think about it, there are times when watching the game in real time you get fooled into wondering why there was or wasn't a call... until you see the replay from a couple of angles.
The first reason that diving really bothers me is the fact that it takes the skill out of the game Diving involves the player's ability to fool the ref into giving another player a tripping penalty. It frustrates me that players are diving and concentrating on trying to fool a referee, instead of winning the game with skill. When a player takes a dive, he calls into question the game's integrity, and quite honestly turns it into a joke. I like to think the game of hockey is based on skill, with the best team winning. Diving turns it into the team that is best at acting their way to victory. I truly feel that it takes away from the image of the sport.
I really hate it when a player gets away with a dive, his team scores the winning power-play goal, and he gets called a hero. When a player does a dive, it makes me question his integrity, because he is spending time trying to fool the referee. Hockey is a game of skill, not the theatre. If I want acting, I will go watch a movie. The NHL needs to have a game of speed and skill, not a game of stoppages because of silly tripping penalties.
The second issue is the head shot rule. Should all head shots be illegal?
I think there will always need to be some level of objectivity in the game, otherwise why would we need the referees at all?
The referees do an admirable job for the most part. Yes, consistency has been an issue, and probably always will be. However, that happens in all team sports, and I would argue that the NHL is one of the best. Many basketball fans are furious about the officiating in this year's NBA playoffs, and think about the number of times you see a Manager in the Major League's leave the dugout to argue a call!
More to your point, and to answer your question, I don't think all hits to the head should be illegal. That's just inviting players to skate with their head down, thus leading to more injury instead of less. And, if you don't think players would do that to draw a penalty, think about your previous question on diving/embellishment... this could make it worse!
Also, I believe that because hockey is a contact sport that is played at an ever increasing speed, there are bound to be collisions involving impact to the head. These unintentional hits should not be punished, and I think the NHL did a good thing by using the language "targeting the head", even though it does leave it open to interpretation by the officials. But, again, that's what they are paid to do and we need to put some trust in their professional judgement.
This is a tricky question, one that I really have a hard time with. I can understand people's concerns here, and head shots have become a major issue. This is a matter of players respecting each other. Too many times, players taking advantage of another's vulnerability, hitting the player in the head from behind. This often results in too many concussion injuries; too many times players have been out for months because of reoccurring headaches, all because of a stupid hit from behind
On the other hand, I can understand Tyler's point. If we eliminate all head shots, we will take out some parts of the game. Maybe we should use the better part of valour here, and judge each incident by the hit.
Even though we cannot be eliminate all head shots, we need to at least penalize the dangerous ones. We do need to take the stupidity out of the game.
I'd like to thank Tyler for his assistance on this blog. Without him, this blog would not have been possible.
Until next time, take care.