Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban can afford the $2,000 he was fined by the NHL for embellishment against the New York Rangers last week. His reputation may not be able to, though.
In the below video, you will also see the incident which resulted in the league giving Subban a warning for diving back on January 6, when Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jason Garrison’s stick got caught in between Subban’s legs. Fast forward to 1:20 to see the infraction against Rangers forward Chris Kreider
Diving Judge, Jury, and Executioner
Dissecting the incident in question is pretty much pointless. There are arguments both for and against whether or not Subban actually dove when shoved from behind by Kreider, who got two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct on the play.
For instance, Subban was skating on one leg when he was shoved, which makes for a good case that he legitimately lost his balance. However, he’s almost perpendicular to Kreider just before, hinting at a good chance he saw him and anticipated what was about to happen.
If a player can be faulted for turning into a dangerous check, why not fault Subban for turning into an unsportsmanlike gesture on Kreider’s part, then? Add in the little shoulder shake and head twirl as he’s going down, and one can argue he did in fact dive.
This is all speculation, though, because it isn’t clear cut one way or the other. What isn’t speculation, though, is that if this is most any other player out there, no penalty is likely called for that very reason. No one, including the referees, can be sure if it was actually a dive. And if a penalty is called, there is most certainly no fine or warning attached to it, resulting perhaps in a situation similar to what happened to Subban earlier this season.
Against the Boston Bruins on October 16, Subban received another embellishment call—but eventually had his record wiped clean—after taking Brad Marchand’s stick to his groin.
What Subban might have failed to realize is, even though he was cleared of any wrongdoing against Boston, it still put him on the league’s radar as well as that of the referees, that is if he hadn’t been on it already.
Subban vs. Kreider
This latest penalty was again coincidentally against Kreider, who has had his own discipline problems, treating the slot area bleeding into the crease like his own personal speedway.
With Kreider having skated into Carey Price among other goalies in the past, it might even be possible that neither of the two even get called during that game were it not for the history between the teams or even the play in the lead-up to the shove.
If the penalties were just the official’s way of maintaining some semblance of order in a game he sensed was spiraling out of control (some job well done, seeing as both players were immediately sent back to the penalty box for unsportsmanlike conduct after getting out) Subban is a mere victim of circumstance, at least here.
In any case, what’s done is done, and much like Kreider, who recently failed to get the benefit of the doubt after skating into New York Islanders goalie Jaroslav Halak, Subban now finds himself skating on thin ice from here on out. The two admittedly differ in one huge way, in that whenever Kreider skates into a goalie, accidentally or not, he puts the goaltender at risk. Subban is only hurting himself and his team.
Well, at least he was. It’s kind of out of his hands now, no matter what he does. While this penalty and fine might have been unwarranted, Subban’s now official status as a repeat offender when it comes to diving isn’t.
Even if we were to truly strike the Marchand spear from record, that wasn’t the first time Subban has (arguably) taken a dive. Unfortunately for his not-so-sparkling reputation, this won’t be the last time he takes a diving penalty—justified or not. And he only has himself to blame.
After 10 years of writing hockey, Ryan decided it was as good a time as any to actually join The Hockey Writers for the 2014-15 season. Having appeared as a guest on such programs as CBC Radio One’s Daybreak, Ryan has written for such publications as the Montreal Gazette and Bleacher Report and worked for the NHL itself and his hometown Montreal Canadiens. He currently covers the Habs for THW as a columnist.