No suspension for Frans Nielsen headshot on Kesler, because Kesler dove

The Department of Player Safety has been busy early in the season, handing out heavy suspensions for a number of dirty hits. In the last two weeks alone, Cody McLeod, Michael Grabner, Maxim Lapierre, Ryan Garbutt and Patrick Kaleta have been suspended for a combined 27 games, and that’s to say nothing of the impending John Scott suspension, which is likely to be the lengthiest yet this season. There has been little hesitation to drop the ban hammer, and the DOPS is only getting more aggressive.

All that in mind, you can understand why Vancouver Canucks fans would be somewhat surprised to learn that Frans Nielsen won’t even get a hearing for what appeared to be an elbow to the head of Ryan Kesler Tuesday night on Long Island.

Why no hearing? Why, when the Department of Player Safety is looking to crack down on headshots, especially picking the head, and when Alex Edler just returned from a three-game suspension for doing something fairly similar?

Simple. It’s a dive. Kesler dove.

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Is Ryan Kesler’s reputation for diving about to get him publicly shamed?

This probably won’t come as much of a shock to you, but Ryan Kesler has a reputation around the NHL as a diver. (I think it has something to do with the way he occasionally falls down by choice, but makes it look like someone else made him do it. Maybe. I don’t know.)

Fair or not, it would appear that he’s not just a suspected diver: he’s one of the best suspected divers. (Or worst, if you’re a real Debbie Downer, but we see the bright side of things here at Pass it to Bulis.) And, according to a report by Darren Dreger, Kesler’s reputation as a top-flight faller-downer could very well mean that his picture will soon be posted in every NHL dressing room around the league, like some sort of outlaw or dude banned from SeaWorld.

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The six best Ryan Kesler tumbleweed gifs

Ryan Kesler is hardly the only player to resort to embellishment in this year’s NHL playoffs. Every team has been accused of diving at least once, with two clubs even being penalized for it: the Pittsburgh Penguins, for a Kris Letang dive, and the Detroit Red Wings, for some Jiri Hudler acting. Furthermore, Brad Marchand’s performance in Game 3 versus the Washington Capitals was like an interactive museum exhibit on embellishment.

Still, Kesler’s dives have stood out. He may not be the worst diver, but he’s definitely the best. You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a dive as ostentatious as the one he pulled in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinal, for instance, when he attempted to draw a penalty on Mike Richards by engaging the Kings’ forward skating backwards, then doing a full-on, flailing, stick-throwing barrel roll as the two exited the Canucks’ zone. It bordered on performance art.

And, like all good art, it inspired other artists — in this case, the .gif-makers over at the HF Boards. For the second straight year, Ryan Kesler has become a meme over there. It’s not quite Ryan Kesler Did This, but the Kesler tumbleweed meme is still pretty darn funny. What follows are 6 of my favourites examples.

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