I wrote about "diving" in this space a few weeks ago. I hate diving. It's disrespectful to the game. It's one of the worst forms of cheating I can think of. That's why I'm writing about it again in regards to the Sharks Captain, Patrick Marleau
In a game on the Sharks road trip in Tampa last week Marleau was given a 2-minute minor penalty by veteran referee Dave Jackson for diving. As far as I can remember it's the first time he's ever received such a penalty. The play occurred in the first period when Marleau was attacking in the Lightning zone. He tried to make a power move to the net and was upended by Tampa defenseman Doug Janik. Our replay on FSN Bay Area seemed to indicate that Marleau was hooked and went down. Jackson called the dive and Marleau immediately argued the call vehemently.
I've known Patrick Marleau
since the day he walked into Sharks training camp as a 17 year old in 1997. Patty is a lot of things. He's one of the top centers in the league. He's one of the fastest skaters in hockey. He is not however a diver. Never has been and never will be. Marleau is a straight up, skilled and dominant forward who always skates through the traffic rather than pull the chute and try and get the call. I've never seen him take a dive. That's why I was so upset about Jackson's call and said so on the broadcast.
After returning home from the road trip I went to my trusty TiVo and watched the Tampa telecast. Lo and behold they had a different angle of the play. It turns out that Marleau wasn't really hooked much at all by Janik, but he was punched in the ribs! Just as the two came together, Janik reached back and drilled Patrick in the rib cage under his right arm. He instantly grimaced in pain, fell to the ice, and well you know the rest.
Part of Dave Jackson's job as a referee is to use his discretion. As a veteran official of close to 900 NHL games, he's worked plenty involving the Sharks. He knows what kind of player Marleau is and he ought to know that he doesn't dive. But I'll give Jackson the benefit of the doubt that he didn't see the punch and made the call on what he did see, incidental contact of Janik's stick on Marleau, followed by Patty hitting the deck.
All I'm saying is that even though Patrick Marleau
will receive a mandatory letter of warning from the National Hockey League his conscience will be clear. The minds of Sharks fans should be clear too. San Jose's Captain doesn't dive. Never did, never will.
For Seagate Technology's "In the Crease," I'm Randy Hahn.