Spitballin’ on the Utica Comets getting a point, Manny Malhotra being a great guy, and diving Kesler backlash

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass ITBulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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Minus their leading scorer, the Utica Comets earn their first point in franchise history

With Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, Dale Weise, Nicklas Jensen, Jordan Schroeder, and David Booth all on the shelf with various injuries, the Canucks have called up some unfamiliar faces to fill out the roster. One of them definitely had Canucks fans scratching their heads and asking, “Who?” when he got the call from Utica: Pascal Pelletier.

Pelletier was signed in the off-season out of the Swiss league to provide some veteran leadership to the Comets, but he’s done more than that: he’s leading the Comets in scoring with 7 points in 4 games. That kind of production made it an easy decision, I’m sure, to call Pelletier up.

Without Pelletier, as well as Darren Archibald and Jeremy Welsh, the Comets still managed to take the Syracuse Crunch to overtime and the shootout on the strength of a 32-save performance from Joacim Eriksson and a goal from Colin Stuart, assisted by Yann Sauve and Zac Dalpe. While they eventually lost in the shootout, it was a gutsy performance from an undermanned squad, and earned the Comets their first point of the season.

Fortunately for the Comets, they’ll be getting their leading scorer back, as Pelletier has been sent back down. Incidentally, the Comets’ second leading scorer and only player with a positive plus/minus is 2011 third round pick Alexandre Grenier, which is a positive sign after he played all of last season in the ECHL.

Manny Malhotra remains a great guy, helps teammate find medal

We’re big fans of Manny Malhotra here at PITB, not only because of his superb defensive play on the ice that enabled Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler to focus on the offensive end, but also because he is a genuinely great guy. When we met his father-in-law (who is also Steve Nash’s dad) at a Phoenix Coyotes game back in 2011, the thing he most wanted to emphasize about Malhotra was that he was a good husband and a good man. He hardly cared about his on-ce performance, but clearly loved his son-in-law for being a quality human being.

Malhotra proved it with his work in the community while with the Canucks and proved it again last week when he went above and beyond the call of duty to help out a teammate with his new team, the Charlotte Checkers.

The Checkers had a team-building exercise a couple weeks ago, playing paintball. One of the players, Brendan Woods, lost a medal that was given to him by his grandfather that had been blessed by the Pope. Knowing how important it was to Woods, Malhotra stepped up to help:

Enter Malhotra, the longtime NHL veteran who’s playing with the Checkers on a pro tryout contract as he attempts to prove that he can still play at the highest level. Without telling Woods, Malhotra, who had known the rookie forward for a little over two weeks, bought a metal detector, drove to the paintball field and searched.

When unable to find the medal, Malhotra told Woods about it, and the two returned to the field to look again on Wednesday. Together, they found it.

Man, Malhotra is the best.

The claim that Kesler dove is a little bit contentious

My co-editor here at Pass it to Bulis stirred up some controversy on Thursday by writing his take on why Frans Nielsen didn’t receive a hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his elbow to the head of Ryan Kesler. It didn’t go over too well with either our regular readership or the many readers directed to the article from Twitter, Facebook, or various hockey forums.

Dimitri Filipovic over at Canucks Army took particular issue with the hit in his post-game recap.

It wasn’t too long ago that Alex Edler was suspended 3 games for a very similar incident. Except that I actually think Nielsen’s hit was worse because he actually appeared to prop his elbow up in the last second before contact, whereas Edler clearly tucked his. Now, Nielsen isn’t considered a repeat offender, so it’s tough to say how he’ll be reprimanded, but I sincerely hope that he doesn’t get off the hook here without anything.

I think this is part of the reason there was such a strong backlash to Harrison’s post. Up until then, every take on the hit from Canucks-centric sources saw it as a clear elbow to the head, with a strong undercurrent of disdain for outside sources that saw it as a dive. By Thursday morning, the view of the hit as a suspension-worthy headshot was solidified in the minds of Canucks fans and it was jarring to see an opposing opinion.

Add that to the fact that Canucks fans are pretty sick and tired of their team’s largely unearned diving reputation and it’s understandable why it got the reaction it did, particularly with the rather frank headline declaring that “Kesler dove.”

With that said, I’d like to quickly respond to some of the most common comments from that post, as it’s a bit impractical to try to respond to everyone individually, particularly with some of the invective aimed at Harrison that made a calm and reasoned response difficult. With over 100 comments, some blanket responses seemed a more practical way to go.

  • You wrote this because you’re biased against the Canucks.

Considering the most common complaint about our blog prior to that article was that we are homers, this one definitely isn’t true. Both Harrison and myself grew up as Canucks fans and we’ve always been pretty up front about how that influences what we write.

  • It wasn’t a dive, but it was embellishment.

To a certain extent, this is semantics, but to some it’s an important distinction, as diving has far more negative connotations than embellishment. I’m more open to the idea it was embellishment rather than a dive than Harrison is, as Kesler was, at the very least, hit in the shoulder and could have gone down from that contact alone.

  • It was a clear elbow to the head!

The problem is that it wasn’t clear at all. In fact, there were numerous commenters who disagreed that it was an elbow, but did think it was a shoulder to the head. Every replay that we saw is relatively unclear. I initially thought it was an elbow to the head, but the angle from in front of Kesler and Nielsen doesn’t seem to show any contact to the head with the elbow and the angle from the side doesn’t seem to show any contact to the head from the shoulder. Even if you think it was an elbow to the head, you can’t really say it was clear.

  • You’re only saying this because of Kesler’s reputation.

This might be partly true, mainly because it’s impossible to completely erase his reputation from our mind when seeing a play like this. But what this ignores is how much we would relish an opportunity to write about how Kesler didn’t dive on this play. We have frequently written articles about suspensions we think the Canucks’ opponents have earned, from Duncan Keith to Brad Marchand. If we felt this was a suspendable offence, we would have said so.

Since I initially thought it was just worth the minor penalty, I didn’t take a closer look at it. Harrison did take a closer look, came to the conclusion that Kesler dove, and so wrote that, not because of Kesler’s reputation, but because of what he saw. Harrison’s initial reaction when seeing the hit was that it was an elbow to the head and he even called out Mark Spector during the game for judging the hit based on Kesler’s reputation:

  • Your editors told you to write this.

Nope. We receive minimal editorial input from the Vancouver Sun and generally just write what we want to write. Since we’ve generally proven ourselves to be trustworthy enough not to write anything libellous or egregiously offensive, we’re basically left alone. There have been a couple times that the Sun has asked us to write something, such as when we graded the Canucks last year, but we’re always up front about it.

  • The real problem is that you stated your opinion as fact.

That’s not really true. What Harrison did was state his opinion emphatically in an attempt to convince the reader that his point of view is correct. Basically everything that we write on this blog is an opinion. We try to back up that opinion with facts, but we don’t feel the need to preface every article with “THIS IS AN OPINION” because that would be ridiculous.

  • This is a bad article.

No, you just disagree with it. This is something I’ve seen frequently in the Canucks fanbase: saying that something is a bad article or that someone is a bad writer simply because you disagree with their opinion. Something can be well-written even if you disagree with it. Cam Cole, for instance, is one of the best sportswriters in Canada, but I’ve seen many Canucks fans on Twitter call him a bad writer when what they really mean is that they disagree with him.

As for Harrison’s post, it was fine. It’s not the way I would have written it, but that’s because we’re different people. It wasn’t a bad article, that’s for sure.

  • I disagree with you and here’s why.

Great! We love disagreement, particularly well-reasoned disagreement. The bizarre claims that we were anti-Canucks or were being influenced by editors were all that I took issue with.

I initially thought it was an elbow to the head, but was convinced by repeated viewings of the video and Harrison’s article that it wasn’t. Judging from the lack of hearing for Nielsen, the Department of Player Safety likely saw it the same way.

53 comments

  1. PB
    October 26, 2013

    Great story about Malhotra — I’m not sure it’s the safest thing for him to continue playing but good luck to him in whatever he does.

    About the Kesler article — most of those other reasons to criticize Harrison’s post make little sense (anti-Canuck, homer, pressured by editors, etc). I also don’t have a problem with him stating his interpretation, but as you say it’s perhaps because he did state it so emphatically and so unequivocally — and in the responses seemed to brook no dissent and dismissed other interpretations as groupthink that struck me as uncharacteristically narrow. His original argument and later defense seemed to suggest there was no doubt about what people should understand the play to have been — it was a dive clear and simple. Only I don’t think it was either clear or simple. It might have been a hit followed by embellishment, perhaps gone awry because Kesler didn’t realize snapping his head back so close to the boards would actually result in a lot of pain. Or it might have been a legitimate response to a borderline hit. I don’t think it was suspension-worthy, I do think it was a penalty and in this case that not a dive by Kesler. Having that opinion doesn’t automatically make it groupthink.

    Perhaps the strong response was in part because this blog is so consistently entertaining, gives great recaps to the games — in fact for the particularly painful ones it’s one of the few bright spots to ease the stomachache — and you’re both generally pretty reasonable. The defensive response seemed out of character.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 26, 2013

      Hey man.

      So this is weird. Forgive me for what’s going to be a long response, but this comment bugs me a little. There were a few people besides yourself who suggested I got really defensive in the comments, and that it didn’t look good on me, or it was out of character, or whatever. I found it odd. I was a bit dismissive of a few comments, undoubtedly, but that’s pretty well what those comments called for, and I’m not sure at what point anything I said or did was out of character for me, overly defensive, or unfair to a thoughtful comment. I wade into the comments on occasion because that’s what I feel a good blogger should do, even when it isn’t going to be fun for him, and I didn’t feel anything I said there was beyond the tone I normally have.

      Here are the comments I responded to with a bit of sass:

      • ”You sir, Mr. Mooney, are an embarrassment.”

      “Oh good grief,” I said. That’s about what that comment deserves, in my opinion (although maybe I should have reciprocated his polite sir).

      • There was a guy who bristled at me saying I had no editorial direction whatsoever, then suggested my editorial stance was somehow tainted because I shared the post in Puck Headlines over at Puck Daddy.

      “I don’t even understand this comment,” I said. “Are you trying to suggest Puck Daddy made me write this article?”

      • “In fact PITB sometimes sacrifice a balanced approach to their own interest in making sure they are not seen to be blindly championing their team.”

      “Ha. Okay then,” I said. What else am I supposed to say to that? Because that’s really silly.

      • There was a guy who got at me for hammering Kesler on a dive even though I never called out the officials for whistling Henrik Sedin for so many hooks. The implication was that there was some sort of anti-Henrik bias because no other star player takes so many hooks.

      “Henrik would probably get fewer penalties if he hooked people less, I dunno,” I said. There’s a reason we call him Captain Hook, and it’s not because the league is out to make him seem like a chronic hooker. He gets a lot of penalties for hooking because he hooks a lot.

      • “The response to this article is almost unanimous. I would suggest that perhaps another look is warranted considering the response of your thoughtful readers.”

      This may be the one where you feel I got uncharacteristically defensive. But, I mean, the “unanimous response” to which the commenter refers wasn’t really all that thoughtful. It was mostly people getting really nasty and disparaging my editorial integrity.

      So I wrote, “Not sure how a bunch of Canucks fans refusing to believe Ryan Kesler dove calls for a second look. Trust me, I gave this enough thought the first time.”

      That’s the honest truth. I did give this a very critical look, and I even spoke to a few league sources about it, originally trying to get to the bottom of why what looked like a blatant elbow wasn’t going to earn a hearing. But, as Daniel pointed out, I actually changed my mind on this play. So yeah, I gave this plenty of thought before I wrote about it, and I resent the suggestion that I needed to rethink it because plenty of Canucks fans disagreed, or that this was some kneejerk reaction from a guy that just considered Kesler’s reputation as a diver and said “dive”. I wouldn’t do that (especially not after I wrote this a couple years back). The league isn’t that lazy either, by the way. They obviously looked at this hit closely, and they used angles we don’t have access to. If it really were as bad as it appeared, Nielsen would have gotten a hearing. He didn’t, because Kesler dove in a way that may have been convincing to most of us, with our limited angles, but was less convincing after additional video footage.

      Anyway, I digress. This was a comment you responded to as well, so I suspect that this is where the characterization of me getting defensive really comes from. But really? I never really got my back up at all. I just responded, as I’m doing now. Frankly, this present comment is the most defensive I think I’ve gotten in the comments section in ages, and please know that I’m not trying to come at you here. You’re cool. Let’s stay friends.

      • ”This is a bad article. Here’s why it’s a bad article.”

      This line, which opens a very long comment, is pretty condescending. So I condescended back: “Uh huh.”

      • ”Love watching Mooney’s questionable journalism get smashed to pieces.”

      Me: “Questionable journalism? This is an opinion piece on a blog.”

      That’s pretty much it for my forays into the comments section. Was there really anything out of character or overly defensive there?

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      • sara
        October 26, 2013

        Enough already. You clearly have some personal issue with Kesler (as anyone who has read your twitter knows full well). You decided to stir up the “Canucks are all divers” lie after Kesler took a hit to the head and had the nerve to fall to the ice. You were called out for it and deservedly so.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          October 26, 2013

          Sara, you seriously have no idea what you’re talking about. Harrison definitely doesn’t have a personal issue with Kesler and it’s bizarre that you would think so.

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          • John in Marpole
            October 27, 2013

            That settles it: Sara = Cambo in a soiled sock

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      • PB
        October 26, 2013

        I appreciate the response and the challenge you both must face in how to deal with the comments sections online. I’m frequently astounded by the amount of time and energy some people do seem to have in coming up with conspiracy theories and getting all twisted in knots about a comment that someone makes. I’ve also seen it on some of your Puck Daddy posts — completely asinine responses of the Don Cherry style to fairly innocuous and (I’d think) uncontroversial claims.

        You’re right, some of the comments in response to your original post were pretty off base — while I tend to skip over most and read primarily the ones that you and Daniel write, I can imagine as the writer receiving all these responses I’d probably be a lot less diplomatic than either of you two.

        In the end it is a bit of a tempest in a teapot — whether Kesler dove or not is pretty secondary to the results on the trip, including his clearly improved play (I suppose that can change if the Auger Syndrome continues, though I think the drumbeat of the Canucks getting shafted by refs is a pretty tired one too). This blog remains one of the more entertaining parts of following the Canucks from afar for me and even the comments section far exceeds those I’ve seen on other ones.

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      • John in Marpole
        October 27, 2013

        Well said Harrison. It’s a bit sad that in this day ad age you have to explain to regular readers (drive-by trolls don’t count)
        1) That a blog content is *opinion*
        2) The independence PITB has from editorial influence
        3) The PITB history that puts to a lie the ‘you hate Kesler`crap
        4) The difference between disagreement and `bad writing`. Your example of Cam Cole is very appropriate. He is one of the best, but he does sometimes get things wrong IMO, but he hasn`t written a bad word that I`ve ever read

        As a Canuck fan who first saw them in the WHL days, nobody can question my fandom. My personal opinion of the check is that there is some elbow movement that _could_ mean Kesler has elbowed, but there isn`t a single video available that shows this to be a fact. As you correctly pointed out, the NHL has other camera angles available, and determined there was nothing to action. Without conclusive evidence there is no foul. This is exactly the way that the justice system (is supposed to) work, not guilty unless proven elsewise.

        I respect that you had the nads to review the video, rethink your initial impression, and then present the matter to the world, so to speak, in full knowledge that it would not be popular. And a pox upon those who made personal attacks upon you. They don`t get it. No any of it.

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      • Nateb123
        October 27, 2013

        I get where you’re coming from Harrison but it’s not really a justification. You made your own bed on this one. The fact that you were dismissive to ANYBODY is what sticks in commenters’ minds, not who you were dismissive of and whether they deserved it. All we notice is that someone said something dumb on the internet and it bothered you enough that you had to make it known that you thought they were stupid. Sometimes saying nothing is the best course of action.

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      • Tom1040
        October 28, 2013

        Harry, you sound just like me.

        Believe me, I completely understand your frustration.

        In fact, I often feel it because you lead the charge of ignorance against stating an opposing (and in the Kesler case, non-homer) point of view.

        Lovin’ this. Absolutely.

        Oh, I guess this makes you a troll now, too.

        Ha!

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  2. Dougster
    October 26, 2013

    You know, it is a bad sign when you refer to the folks who read PITB collectively as “you” and start arguing semantics (dove/embellishment). I think the reaction to the article is in part due to fans noticing a Canucks team that is giving more effort night in and out than maybe we have seen in the past, Kesler included. Last night in St. Louis was a really gutsy effort.

    So, let’s just give PITB a mulligan for the Kesler article and move on, shall we?

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    • Daniel Wagner
      October 26, 2013

      Not meant to be a collective “you” really. More just pick and choose which one applies to you.

      To be fair, it was some of the commenters on the original article that were arguing semantics with dove and embellishment. I was just trying to respond to those comments.

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      • TubaNat
        October 26, 2013

        I can’t believe how crazy the diving article comments got! My reaction was like walking into a bar, discovering a massive fight, and then immediately saying ‘nope’ and walking out. Well done to you two for trying to fight your way out of it! You’re excellent writers, and anyone who disagrees with that is just missing out! Keep it up.

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  3. shoes
    October 26, 2013

    I agree 100% with you about Manny Malhotra . That errant puck changed the fortunes of the entire team, but of course the important thing is Manny can still carry on. I do think that Gillis made the right decision on not using Manny any more, as painful as it is, in this fast nasty league, he could have an injury that he could not recover from. I would have very much liked to have seen Manny remain with the team on some level just because of his obvious character.

    About Kesler, no matter if he embellished or not, he drew a 2 minute penalty and in this version of the NHL that is working like a charm. Spector can clam is sorry yap (located just under some hair implants, nee comb-over) I watched an Oiler game the other night and Jeff Petry made the most difficult and successful dive that I have seen in a long time. It worked, the ensuing PP won the game and it happened without being touched by another player at all. Spector should write about that.

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  4. akiddd
    October 26, 2013

    you know it could have been a dive and if it were, it was a damn good one. pretty inconclusive though i’d say, not definitive enough to to for harrison to be so convinced and emphatic about it. i’m totally down with harrison expressing opinion and looking for different angles of insight into ‘the game we watch’ but he does come off as being a bit sensationalist(driving traffic) here to me. that’s my only criticism. that’s showbiz though i guess. it’s how ‘the other game we watch (and read)’ is often played. PITB is generally pretty good about it though and generally strikes a nice balance between ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘responsible’. i think this time harrison was just having a heavy enthusiasm day. he had an idea and got excited about it. it was more about his own creativity than the thing itself… which is how it goes for most people about most things.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 26, 2013

      I take offence to the notion that I was being sensationalistic. Sensationalism is dishonest — you trump up a dissenting opinion just to stoke the fires of outrage — and I was actually just giving my honest opinion. Occasionally, that will stoke the fires of outrage, but I like to think I came by those fires honestly. :-D

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      • Nanodummy
        October 26, 2013

        Eh…. Did the backlash and/or traffic you received from this article, with a provocative title, really not occur to you when you decided to write and then publish this post?

        Because, to your credit sir, I think you’re definitely smart enough to have figured A) This will probably piss off some of the Canucks fans who bleed Blue and Green, especially the homer trolls, and B) This will likely echo through the Smylosphere and wind up driving those types, and others (like myself, who suspected the title was ironic and was surprised by it’s sincerity) to read it.

        Those two factors are why it is sensationalist, and to take umbrage at that criticism is to imply you didn’t think that your actions would “stoke the fires” is either disingenuous or that you might want to exercise some sober second thoughts before publishing some of you opinion pieces if responses like this offend you.

        There is nothing wrong with stating your opinion, but there is something wrong with making it a stand alone article with a provocative headline and then claiming that you weren’t being sensational. It could have easily been part of a S.P.I.T.B.allin article and likely wouldn’t have driven so much traffic or outrage.

        That being said, I agree that Kesler embellished and think the Edler suspension was a farce. I also appreciate yours and Daniel’s writing and hope that you continue to do provocative, genuine op-eds that drive traffic.

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        • Nanodummy
          October 27, 2013

          *Those two factors are why it is sensationalist, and to take umbrage at that criticism is to imply you didn’t think that your actions would “stoke the fires”. That is either disingenuous or you might want to exercise some sober second thoughts before publishing some of your opinion pieces if responses like this offend you.

          Good old sentence structure. But that’s why you’re the blogger and I’m the law…talkin’…guy…

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        • Harrison Mooney
          October 27, 2013

          So, because it was contentious or might cause some disagreement, I was supposed to bury it?

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          • Nanodummy
            October 27, 2013

            No. Just don’t take offense with the criticism that it was sensationalism when you make the issue a headliner instead of a footnote.

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          • Tom1040
            October 28, 2013

            Troll.

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      • akidd
        October 27, 2013

        i didn’t mean you were being dishonest, harrison. i just think you got excited, honestly excited, and the result was an article that was destined to cause a stir.

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  5. 19Yzerman19
    October 26, 2013

    Re: this is a bad article. That was me who said that.

    You’re partly right My comment saying that it was a bad article was not merely a matter of me disagreeing with Harrison, though I did. My problem was that the thrust of the article placed the wrong issue in the spotlight, which was diving (or rather embellishment, since I still insist that that’s what it was) instead of a dangerous play that turned out not to be injurious. Which makes sense if you take the view that it was a play that Kesler embellished to draw the call rather than pure theatre.

    Harrison’s article failed to do what you just did – talk about the difference between diving and embellishment – and specify what exactly Harrison meant. It turned out, after he clarified the same in the comments, that he did not mean that Kesler had embellished, but that he dove, i.e., completely faked the whole thing. That, I disagree with, and so to some extent you’re right that my assessment of the article as “bad” is premised on disagreement – in the sense that in my view Kesler embellished a light hit to the head whereas Harrison’s apparent view was that there was no hit to the head whatsoever (though he was somewhat inconsistent on this point as he also suggested that there was but it was a “graze”).

    In any event, your response misses the point. When someone says “this is a bad article”, it doesn’t mean that it was poorly written. In reference to an article, “bad” can mean any number of things. The most obvious example is people complaining about Lambert’s articles, some of which despite being well written are pretty transparent examples of shock-jock trolling.

    In this case, if you read the post, “bad” was explained to mean ill-conceived because it let Nielsen off the hook. The issue isn’t “there goes Kesler again”, it’s “there go the Mark Spectors of the world, banging the drums of Canuck divery while totally ignoring that Nielsen (and a lot of other players in a lot of games) are doing dangerous things to varying degrees and getting away with them because the NHL pays no mind unless someone needs to call for a trainer and/or stretcher”. There’s a penchant for ignoring these plays unless someone gets knocked silly, even when the only reason no one was is simple luck.

    I saw a hit to the head that wasn’t a very hard hit to the head followed by some embellishment. Taking that as read, the fact that the embellishment is the primary issue for so many people exemplifies the hypocrisy of this league in its purported attempts to make player safety and in particular headshots a priority. The culture’s broken in this regard and this was a chance to point that out. Embellishment is dishonourable, but dangerous hits ruin careers and in many cases lives. It’s pretty obvious which is the bigger problem.

    Now, Harrison didn’t take that as read. He apparently saw Nielsen whiff on Kesler. Harrison actually characterized it as barely grazing him, which suggests that he hit him but not very hard. This is sort of confusing, since it was either a dive, or a not-very-hard-hit-to-the-head, so I’m not 100% clear on what he means. However, I take him to mean that the extent to which Nielsen made contact was so minor that it was tantamount to him having made no contact whatsoever.

    My view of it was that he hit him just hard enough to put him off balance a bit – which is to say, not very hard. Even so, that’s a headshot that if things go slightly differently (one player takes a slightly different angle or skates at a slightly different speed or Kesler has his head a few inches to the right) could result in a concussion. It’s not hard to imagine those few things going slightly differently in a game that moves as fast as NHL hockey. So that’s my point. And even if Harrison’s interpretation is right, that point stands, because it wouldn’t have taken much going differently for a “light graze” to be a pretty serious pick of the head.

    Incidentally, it’s worth pointing out Harrison’s view is supported by nothing but his interpretation of the video. He’s saying that the contact was so slight as to not cause Kesler any particular inconvenience, but he took advantage of the situation and did a little spin towards the boards and flopped down on the ice completely of his own accord. There’s no particular reason to believe that this is what happened (as opposed to my interpretation of the video), except that Kesler has a reputation for embellishment. So you can hardly blame your commenters for saying that Harrison only thought what he did because it’s Kesler.

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    • Harrison Mooney
      October 26, 2013

      Considering how much you write, you should probably have your own blog, eh? You’re not bad at it.

      I feel like you’re really reaching, though. You’re right that that’s a headshot if things go slightly differently — like if Nielsen actually gets Kesler in the head, which he was close to doing but didn’t do. But since my article was basically in response to the people calling for a suspension the league wasn’t planning to serve, I’m not sure why I would have written an article condemning Nielsen for almost hitting Kesler in the head. What he did was completely clean and legal. It was a good defensive play. Like most hockey plays, it was close to being dangerous, because it’s a pretty thin line in hockey, but the article lets Nielsen off the hook because he wasn’t the one that did something illegal — Kesler was.

      “Incidentally, it’s worth pointing out Harrison’s view is supported by nothing but his interpretation of the video.”

      Yeah. That’s sort of what we do here. Admittedly, I didn’t write “in my opinion” once, but it seems pretty clear it was just my opinion, especially since few shared it. I’d say it’s also supported by the league not calling Nielsen for a hearing, by the way. If he actually did what people thought he did, they would have nailed him. Either you believe that or you believe they actually have an anti-Canucks bias and just chose not to review or suspend because it’s Kesler. That’s nonsense.

      And as for commenters saying I only thought what I thought because it’s Kesler, that’s nonsense too. We’ve defended Kesler plenty here over the years, and we’ve also called out other media members for seeing Canuck dives that actually aren’t dives. Any regular reader should know that we give these things actual thought — we don’t just go on player reputations. But we’re not going to just keep our mouths shut when there’s a controversy surrounding what we see as an actual, honest-to-goodness dive, and we’re not going to join the choruses ripping Mark Spector and Arthur Staple when they actually got this one right. It would have been a lot easier, and it’s always fun to make fun of Mark Spector, but if a dive is what happened, and I truly believe that’s what happened here, it’s what we’ll say.

      Anyway. I appreciate you weighing in. Hopefully there are fewer dives to write about going forward and we’re able to keep things light.

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      • JDM
        October 26, 2013

        I’m just going to go ahead and parse this a bit. And I’m writing a lot here because I’m trying to make as sure as possible that I’m not being misinterpreted because there are a lot of nuances to this discussion (largely as a result of our different interpretations of video).
        “Considering how much you write, you should probably have your own blog, eh? You’re not bad at it.” I initially wasn’t sure if this was sarcastic, but given the tone of what follows, it strikes me as pretty condescending. Which, if you’re wondering, was the kind of stuff that guy above was probably referring to with respect to you getting defensive in the comments. Of course, we could all be misinterpreting your intent, this being the internet, but that’s how it goes.
        “I’m not sure why I would have written an article condemning Nielsen for almost hitting Kesler in the head” – Again, if you’ll read my post, you’ll find that my whole train of thought is premised on what I saw, which was Nielsen hitting Kesler in the head but not very hard. As I say, you apparently didn’t see that. Given that I’m looking at video and seeing concrete events, I generally expect others to see the same. Consequently, I called you out for having equivocated diving and embellishment when what I saw was embellishment. You then clarified that no, you really had seen a full-fledged 100% dive. That had not occurred to me to be a possibility, as when watching the video I clearly see contact between Nielsen’s shoulder and Kesler’s head. Different people can witness the same event and come to different factual conclusions as to what happened. Such was the case here. Thank you for again clarifying that your interpretation of the video was that he missed Kesler – I wasn’t clear on that earlier because I thought you’d said he’d grazed him.
        “Yeah. That’s sort of what we do here.” “And as for commenters saying I only thought what I thought because it’s Kesler, that’s nonsense too.” Of course it’s what you do – presenting your opinion of the video, I mean. However, as noted, there’s no particular reason to come to the conclusion you did (that there wasn’t any contact to speak of whatsoever and Kesler’s reaction was a farce rather than an exaggeration), besides the fact that Kesler has a history of diving. That’s true regardless of the amount of thought you may have given the play. There’s nothing in the video angles that would suggest that your interpretation of events is right and mine is wrong. Daniel talks about people who complain that the only reason you came to the conclusion you did was because it was Kesler, and it seems to me that they’re right. Odd to take issue with that reaction on the part of the commenters, I think, when it’s a perfectly logical one.
        Now, your point about the league not calling for a hearing being additional basis for believing it was a dive is well taken, but I would say that an equally likely explanation for that happening is the attitude I’m complaining about – the league generally doesn’t seem to care unless the hit makes the highlight package. Given the league’s inconsistency (putting it nicely) in supplemental discipline matters lately, you’ll forgive me for not simply assuming they made the right call here.
        Which brings us to this: “Either you believe that or you believe they actually have an anti-Canucks bias and just chose not to review or suspend because it’s Kesler. That’s nonsense.” Okay, you’ve created a straw man and a false dilemma here at the same time. I believe the league chose not to review this particular play because of some combination of the following factors: it wasn’t a very hard hit to the head, there was no particular push from the team or media for a review of the play (yes, politics matters), there was no injury on the play and the league weighs injuries heavily, Nielsen is in the process of attempting to get the puck rather than just trying to hit Kesler, and the video isn’t great in assessing what happened. All of that together suggests that the penalty called during the game was punishment enough, and no supplemental discipline was warranted. I tend to agree with that conclusion, by the way, in light of the NHL’s current standards (a discussion of the weaknesses of which is a whole other issue). In any event, that would provide an equally good explanation for there having been no review as your supposition that they considered it a dive.

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        • Daniel Wagner
          October 26, 2013

          I don’t see any condescension there. I found 19Yzerman19′s comment to be well-written and well-reasoned. It seems like he’d be good at blogging. That’s all I got out of Harrison’s comment.

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          • Harrison Mooney
            October 26, 2013

            Yeah, that’s all I meant by it. Wasn’t a dig. And I think 19yzerman19 and JDM are the same person?

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            • 19Yzerman19
              October 26, 2013

              Yeah same person. I had posted something similar to my original comment on a web forum where my tag is 19Yzerman19 so I just copied and pasted it under the same title.

              Anyway, thanks for the compliment.

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  6. Zach Morris
    October 26, 2013

    The Kesler piece just didn’t feel like a PITB article.
    There was little humour and a bit of preachiness; overall, it seemed more like a Province op-ed than the wit I know and love on this blog.

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    • Dougster
      October 26, 2013

      Totally agree! Does Harrison have an evil twin?

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      • Harrison Mooney
        October 26, 2013

        Haha. Not everything we write here is of the witty/quippy variety. The best thing about this space is that we have license to sort of do whatever we want — be really, really silly, write in the op-ed style, or fall somewhere in between. In this case, I went for more of a straight approach. Part of the reason for that was that our readers are smart, and they know to watch out for the telltale sign that something is actually really satire, and I didn’t want to inadvertently suggest I wasn’t 100% on the level in my take.

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        • Dougster
          October 26, 2013

          I would love it if the time and energy you are spending on defending an article you wrote was instead directed at writing something new. You took an stand on something that other intelligent folks who watch a lot of hockey didn’t agree with–let it go. Responding to all of the points raised just makes it worse IMHO. By the way, referring to unnamed league sources as evidence for your opinion doesn’t help your argument …

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    • tom selleck's moustache
      October 26, 2013

      Perhaps it wasn’t typical of the tone of stuff that’s written this blog, but more serious fare does get written by Wagner and Mooney from time to time eg. Mooney’s piece after the final on the culture of machismo that currently informs some of the opinions and views in the hockey world. As such I don’t really mind that kind of change up as I’m always interested in reading another’s opinion, even when it differs from my own, especially if they have a past history of being able to present their view point in a clear and logical manner.

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    • Aaron
      October 26, 2013

      I have to agree with Zach. I always enjoy the humour in your articles and read them every day. That article did not feel the same. Love the discussion and have a lot of respect for any one who voices their “opinion” regardless of if it will be well received or not.

      Just keep up the good work both of you!

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  7. Drew Jackson
    October 26, 2013

    I agree with PB’s comments about the Kesler diving post – the strong backlash was likely due to Mooney’s unequivocal take on a hit that was open to many interpretations, as well as the dismissive tone of his responses on the comment thread. It seemed out of character to me, as usually I find Mooney open to other viewpoints even when he’s putting forward a strong one of his own.

    Personally, I didn’t see it as a dive – maybe Kesler was milking the impact a bit, but I don’t think it was extreme at all. For me, the right call was made on the ice and it wasn’t a suspension worthy incident.

    That all said, I’m ok with the spotlight getting shone on Kesler and his historical tendency to dive. He definitely has been a diver in the past, and I hate it. He’s too good a player to stoop to diving. And diving inevitably catches up to you – eventually, both the player and the team stop getting even the legit calls. From what I’ve seen so far this year, I actually think Kesler has stopped diving. He’s busting it out there, playing with grit and skill, and playing increasingly well. My hope is that this diving chatter will reinforce for him that it’s better to resist any temptation to start diving again. My hunch is that Tortorella may see it that was as well.

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  8. GeezMoney
    October 26, 2013

    **Group hug** Journalism be tough.

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  9. kevbo
    October 26, 2013

    First world problems.

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  10. Amac
    October 26, 2013

    I could care less. I’ve been travelling in the USA and missing most of these games – since I started following you guys, I know between the highlights on canucks.com and PITB I can get a good report on the action, some laughs, and some inside looks. But move on. Arguing points with people who have fixed opinions is wasting words.
    Dive or decapitation attempt, I like what I’m seeing from Kess and the rest, these guys are starting to play like a team – a point out of first? C’mon.

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  11. Wilma flinstone
    October 26, 2013

    I don’t think the issue was whether Kes dove or not. I think the issue was how the article was written – in my opinion, very un-PITB. Thus the shocked reaction of your readers, including me. PITB to me is like a refuge for us fans. We hang out here. I check it every day, game day or not. I never comment, but I enjoy it. With that article, all of a sudden it felt sort of… Unsafe to be here. You guys have called out players before but the tone of that one was different. So un-PITB. And the defensive reactions are a bit off-putting too. I respect other opinions but the way that one was written felt strange and unfamiliar.

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    • John in Marpole
      October 27, 2013

      I find it interesting that so many readers feel that they are better judges of what is/isn’t PITBish, for lack of a better term, than are the guys who write the blog.

      Seems to me that anything posted to PITB authored by Harrison or Daniel *is*, by definition, PITBish.

      I like the fact that the guys have the backbone to post opinions that are not lock-step in keeping with the (often less hockey-knowledgeable than they think they really are) biased view of Canuck fans.

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      • Nee
        October 27, 2013

        “I find it interesting that so many readers feel that they are better judges of what is/isn’t PITBish, for lack of a better term, than are the guys who write the blog.”

        I think the person was trying to say that they’ve come to expect a certain style from PITB, not that they know better what the style should be. I don’t agree with Wilma’s comment but I thought I’d defend her there.

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      • Tom1040
        October 28, 2013

        Really?

        Aren’t you really talking about me?

        Lovin’ it.

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  12. Fred
    October 26, 2013

    Kessler who?

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  13. tj
    October 26, 2013

    Phew. It seems to me, so many of these complaints against Harrison equate to: “You didn’t write what I thought you should write, so you should just shut up until you can say what I want to hear. Make us laugh! That’s your job; now do it.” Yikes. It really makes me think twice about pursuing a public writing. Peeps can be nasty.

    Ironic that you two should have just done that podcast with Scott about the success of the blog. (‘They build you up to break you down; it’s just like Tetris, man’)

    Maybe we all just need a cuddle and tickle. :)

    Cheers.

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  14. mac 'n cheese
    October 26, 2013

    Everybody stop fighting! That is all.

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  15. The real Kyle
    October 26, 2013

    I think the worst of it was “Not sure how a bunch of Canucks fans refusing to believe Ryan Kesler dove calls for a second look.” It is just the kind of thing I would expect from the LAKings twitter account. You are entitled to your opinion but do you have to insult your readers as well?

    One last thing – it is good you went to blogging school instead of becoming a riot policeman. Crowd control – not your Forte.

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    • Brian
      October 27, 2013

      Considering that the readers who you claim are being insulted are questioning the writers’ ability to formulate an opinion, I think it was an appropriate response. I don’t care if its called a dive or an embellishment because it results in the same thing, Kesler tried to get a penalty instead of just playing the game.
      Every time that happens whether a penalty is called or not it adds to this perception of a diving culture in Vancouver. Torts gets it and has publicly stated that this team will not dive. The rest of the team need to buy in as well because every single embellishment will be looked at under a microscope by the NHL fans and Media if not the league as well.

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  16. laplander
    October 27, 2013

    Loved both the articles. I think the Canucks got the ‘diving’ rep because of -
    a) Burrows admitting that he dove to get a penalty, but more -
    b) c) & d) – the 2011 playoffs. No penalties were being called, it was clutch and grab was at it’s best unless someone ‘sold’ the penalty. I mean, no penalty against Marchand when he used Sedin’s head as a speed bag? It wasn’t just the Canucks; everyone was selling penalties, it was just the Canucks that were in the most series. OK, Boston was selling them too, but they were Boston, so that was OK.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      October 27, 2013

      Just a note on Marchand: this is something that’s repeatedly said by Canucks fans, but it’s not actually true. Marchand did get a penalty for punching Daniel Sedin. Marchand got a two-minute minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct. The misconduct was pretty meaningless, as there was only a minute-and-a-half left in the game, but he still got the penalty. The Canucks actually got a powerplay out of that situation, though the game was out of reach at that point.

      What upset fans at the time was that Daniel got a 10-minute misconduct as well, which seemed nonsensical, unless he said something really abusive to the officials. It was also a little ridiculous how long it took the officials to intervene. Daniel was derided at the time for not responding, but his lack of response is what earned the Canucks the powerplay, even though they were down by three.

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      • laplander
        October 27, 2013

        Thanks! I remembered I was p*ssed off, but not why :-)

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      • NarkusMaslund
        October 28, 2013

        I decided to torture myself and rewatch that “highlight” again. Pretty clear that Daniel says something pretty abusive, just from the lipreading, but geez, I’ll go to my grave thinking that maybe the referee could have given him a pass in that situation.

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  17. PB
    October 27, 2013

    Of course the slightly sad thing is that we’re still mostly talking about the Kesler piece instead of the awesome story on Malhotra. Regardless of whatever else he does in hockey that guy really is a class act. What is going on with the Charlotte Checkers? Didn’t they also offer a PTO to Rick DiPietro?

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  18. Raftgeek
    October 27, 2013

    Dang I sort feel left out as I completely missed the first article and the Kesler *situation* but I have to say this whole thread just seems dumb. They wrote it, people didn’t like it not a big deal unless people would be so upset as to never read another article by Harrison or Daniel and I highly doubt that. I would say Harrison and Daniel let it go and to the people that are butthurt whatever let it go as well.

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  19. BedBeats
    October 28, 2013

    The discussion here has been a good read, as was the OG article. Too bad Sara CDC-ed the chats. Good work lady. Now tell me that the NYR suck totally because of AV.

    Its funny that some people often forget that PITB can sometimes be a bit less playful with certain stories/topics.

    Harrison, i think your initial premise was bang on. Except, of course, what the difference is between diving and embellishment.

    In my pea-brained appraisal of those terms: Diving 85-95% of the time, appears to be on open ice, at key locations. Embellishments seem to occur along the boards.

    IMO its pretty simple, ANY questionable physicality along the boards is difficult for refs to suss out. Same goes for camera broadcasts.

    This play is a perfect example of how difficult it is for the Hockey fans to come to an understanding of exactly what happened.

    The differing opinions are only because its central to Kesler, whose only transgressions in his past gameplay is trying to draw calls by diving after it is well known to the refs and the oppositions bench, that he has been chirping and antagonizing guys that will check him closely.

    I would speculate that the Isles players chirped him for diving, as evidenced by the chatter and the end of the 3rd period scuffles.

    Personally i think it was a masterful display of embellishment. It was risky (and even disgustingly savvy) for Kes to position and reach for the puck as he was guided past the stanchion and meet Nielsen’s shoulder area. Hard to detect where initial contact was, if you are a ref. Non?

    You didnt have to engage the comments Harrison. MAYBE offer a succinct response to the average complaints. (I did not read the commentary banter that is being discussed here.)

    Canuck fans get ridiculously precious about these sort of controversial topics without taking time to be solidly informed in their opinion. That is why this articles comments are enjoyable to read.

    Kesler dangerously embellished for a call. Period.

    Get over it people.

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