Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Saw Alexandre Despatie Last Night

After watching Bertuzzi for a couple games I've truly come to believe that he has been targeted by the refs. While in the overall scheme of karma that makes a lot of sense it also as a principle doesn't really work. Bertuzzi may have been guilty of a very legitimate penalty several years ago but that doesn't mean that he's guilty of some other act.

This point brings me to last night. You can check the play over at CiO (i couldn't find the clip at youtube and I don't know how to steal mikew's great work at saving and uploading that file) and while I think Bertuzzi walked a fine line there I don't think he did anything other than compete for the puck and actually let up a bit at the end.

Johnson on the other hand defies many laws of physics that would be implied with a forward momentum push and drops as if he has literally been shot in the back.

I'm not one of those people who can't reconcile two penalties (the initial call + the dive call) in one play - just because a player dives doesn't mean the initial infraction never happened, so I could've lived with a boarding penalty to Bertuzzi if the unsportsmanlike call had gone against Ryan Johnson.

I'm not going to blame the referee here; it's a fast game. The ref sees 'BERTUZZI' stalking a guy going to the corner, the guy goes flying pretty close to the boards and he looks hurt - it's going to happen.

What I do see as disappointing, is as far as I can tell, there is not going to be any formal review of the issue by the NHL. I want to be very clear about this; I am not a bitter fan railing against losing the game, this call perhaps didn't even affect the outcome. I am just a disappointed fan who hates to see diving, regardless of the perpetrator. Ryan Johnson serves as an example only.

Here, via the NHL website, is the rule on diving:

Rule 64 - Diving / Embellishment

64.1 Diving / Embellishment – Any player or goalkeeper who blatantly dives, embellishes a fall or a reaction, or who feigns an injury shall be penalized with a minor penalty under this rule.

A goalkeeper who deliberately initiates contact with an attacking player other than to establish position in the crease, or who otherwise acts to create the appearance of other than incidental contact with an attacking player, is subject to the assessment of a minor penalty for diving / embellishment.

64.2 Minor Penalty - A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player or goalkeeper who attempts to draw a penalty by his actions (“diving / embellishment”).

64.3 Fines and Suspensions - Regardless if a minor penalty for diving / embellishment is called, Hockey Operations will review game videos and assess fines to players or goalkeepers who dive or embellish a fall or a reaction, or who feign injury. See also Rule 29 – Supplementary Discipline. The call on the ice by the Referee is totally independent of supplementary discipline.

The first such incident during the season will result in a warning letter being sent to the player or goalkeeper. The second such incident will result in a one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine. For a third such incident in the season, the player shall be suspended for one game, pending a telephone conversation with the Director of Hockey Operations. For subsequent violations in the same season, the player’s suspension shall double (i.e. first suspension – one game, second suspension – two games, third suspension – four games, etc.) See also Rule 29 – Supplementary Discipline. (Source)


I think we can clearly establish that Johnson violated Rule 64.1 yet escaped on ice punishment. However, we can see that whether the on-ice officials called a dive or not they are eligible for review by Hockey Operations. So while I cannot place a high level of culpability on the on ice officials, I certainly can do so to Hockey Operations; I don't think there's any other way to say this other than stating 'if this play is not reviewed they clearly aren't doing their job.'

Another issue I have with Rule 64.1 is the harshness of the penalty. First offence is a letter, second offence is a $1000 fine, third is a one game suspension. If that doesn't sound like a joke to you then you must be humourless. On the off chance Hockey Operations reviews the play, and decides it was a dive, they have to do that 2 more times for there to be any in game consequences.

Here's my proposition: For any infraction, first, third, eighteenth, the player receives a one game suspension.

The one game suspension though will not be much of a deterrent; you give Ryan Johnson a one game suspension and how much are the Canucks going to miss him?

For a while the league had some sort of Scarlett letter diving thing, but as far as I can tell that plan fell to the wayside.

If it were up to me I would not simply fine the player, I would fine every member of the team, including coaches. They would all be fined at the nominal fee of $1000 which means that it wouldn't really be hurting their pocketbooks all that much, but it would create an extra incentive to not be hated by your team - it makes the whole organization accountable for the transgression of each individual player. It would hopefully create a self policing system between players. The team should be embarrassed when one of their players embellishes to such an obvious extent.

You might argue that in cases where Hockey Operations gets it wrong upon review, this is an overly harsh punishment, but I would bet the psychological effect of being wrongfully prosecuted (persecuted) would actually have a positive fortifying effect on the team.

Is there something I'm missing here?

27 comments:

MikeP said...

I don't know if I'm with you on your modifications (would have to give them more thought), but Bertuzzi definitely got robbed on that call. I'm definitely with you on calling them both. You shouldn't hit a guy in the numbers, but when he leaps like he just took a bullet between the shoulder blades, that's a bit much.

MattM said...

I miss the Scarlet Letter plan.

I like the sliding scale of mandatory punishments, but the board should have the right to skip a step or two if they judge the incident to be particularly egregious.

Incidentally, do you know if anyone has actually ever been suspended under this rule?

duncan said...

God, he didn't even hit him in the numbers — he glanced the back of his legs. That's a play that happens a dozen times in every game.

Bertuzzi does come with a reputation, though, you're right. It's his burden to bear, and now the Flames'.

Kyle said...

mattm: not that I'm aware of, nor do I believe there ever will be.

duncan: that's what I thought.

Steal Thunder said...

I think the closest they ever got to a suspension was a player being fined a couple of years ago after a second offence, but I can't think of a name off the top of my head...

Steal Thunder said...

I had a feeling it was Sean Avery...

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/news_story/?ID=142780&hubname=nhl

walkinvisible said...

i remember domi getting fined once.

did ribeiro get fined for the greatest act of embellishment of all time ?? or is that when the rule was instated ("the ribeiro rule" akin to the "avery rule").

Kyle said...

I had a feeling it was Sean Avery...

I try to ignore him, I must have blocked it out.


Are you referring to this Mike Ribiero incident, or this one?

Both are pretty disgraceful.

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