12 December 2011

A response to the Puck Daddy article...

Some of you may have noticed, Yahoo! Sports' Greg Wyshysnki wrote a response to my piece on supplemental discipline on Puck Daddy on Friday.

First and foremost, it is always a pleasure when the folks at Puck Daddy link to my posts.  I thought Wysh wrote a very good piece and made some very good points even though we aren't quite in agreement on a couple things.

I'll point out a couple differences...

1) The Department of Player Safety

I love his closing point of "Is anyone really comfortable with something called the Department of Player Safety telling an NHL player his pain isn't real?"  And I'll admit, that felt a little awkward when I wrote it.  However, I look at "Department of Player Safety" as a euphemism for "Department of discipline" (or "Department of suspending your ass") so in that sense, my intention was only to call the department where I believe this decision should fall by it's proper name.

Still it is quite funny when you think about it.

2) "Calling Out" on-ice officials

As far as "calling out" the on ice officials, I actually meant that more from the perspective of the front office than from the perspective of referees themselves.  (Again I was using the recent Fistric incident as an example.) I think the hesitation is on the part of front office to do this unless supplemental discipline is involved, I am not privy to how NHL referee's respond to these instances.

I hope referees would see increased discipline for embellishment as supporting their role, not undermining it.  Removing this judgement from what they're required to look for I think would only help them focus on the actual acts that should be penalized.  I would hope even the best referees realize there are going to be games where 18,000 people see something the ref just completely misses.  It happens, and is something I've just had to learn to accept as I become more my mature as a fan.  Also, I have experienced what happens when I miss something as a youth-level referee, in front of crowds of just dozens and an angry coach.  It happens more than anyone cares to admit.

Other points)

I do agree with the first two points Wysh made about playing doctor through television and balancing illegal acts.  Nobody wants to call anyone a diver based on replay unless it's obvious.  It's going to take a bit of extra courage to do what I propose.

To the point of balancing illegal acts however, I think it's worth noting the two instances I cited that involving the Wild this season did not involve acts worthy of supplemental discipline (I do get the case for a boarding minor in the Brodziak incident, but there's no way that play should rise to the level of "intent to injure" and probably wouldn't have if Kopitar didn't stay down).  So supplemental discipline for diving would not be balancing an illegal act in these cases because nothing worthy of supplemental discipline happened.

So I would propose that supplemental discipline for embellishment only be considered in incidents where no other act requiring supplemental discipline took place.  In other words, if there is a fineable/suspendable offense against the diver, the diver gets to slide (by the way, if the power to call embellishment penalties stays with referee's I think they should look at it the same way, either a penalty or a dive, never both).

And I'm willing to concede there are more blatant incidents than what happened in the Kopitar/Brodizak deal, so perhaps the bar does need to be set higher that that for what dives are fineable/suspendable at first.  But this needs to be looked at before we start to have games that look as shameful as soccer matches.

Furthermore, Wysh is completly right about how this won't change until "diving and embellishment become an "epidemic," which is to say when coaches in the playoffs bitch enough about it."

Right now, no coach or GM in the league gives a damn about what's fair to Kyle Brodziak other than Yeo and Fletcher.

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