There are a lot of cool things I could have done with a free Saturday night in Los Angeles.
I contemplated dinner at a trendy restaurant or checking out the vibrant club scene here in southern California.
But I decided to something even more outrageous in my spare time: I went through Erik Karlsson’s career penalty log to see if his newly-found diver reputation is warranted.
In the final minute of Saturday afternoon’s contest in Anaheim, Karlsson was tripped up by Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf. There was no penalty called on the play, which would have given the Senators a legitimate chance to tie the game with a 6-on-4 advantage.
A bewildered Karlsson looked at referee Dan O’Rourke, who basically told Karlsson that he embellished the trip.
When we were in Paul MacLean’s post-game media scrum, the Senators’ head coach was absolutely livid with Karlsson’s label from the on-ice officiating crew.
"The referee informed us that (Karlsson) was a diver," said MacLean. "We were a little bit disappointed. Erik Karlsson leads the league in points by a defenseman, he’s an elite skater in the league, and, to this point in time, I can never remember him taking a dive.
"If it’s not a penalty, it’s not a penalty, but I don’t think you should be accusing someone of being a diver. That’s a pretty serious accusation, isn’t it?"
I agree with MacLean that calling someone a diver is a serious accusation, because that sticks with you for the rest of your career. Just ask Derek Roy if he ever gets the benefit of the doubt on a questionable tripping call.
So I looked up all of Karlsson’s 50 career minor penalties to see how many times he had been called for diving. His penalty log breaks down as follows:
Delay Of Game: 4
Playing With Broken Stick: 1
Unsportsmanlike Conduct: 1
In his three-year career in the National Hockey League, Karlsson has been called for diving just once. And the reason why Paul MacLean doesn’t recall the incident is because it occurred last season when Cory Clouston was the head coach.
Karlsson got called for diving late in the first period of a game against the Buffalo Sabres on March 13, 2011. Interestingly enough, Karlsson argued the call — and was slapped with an extra unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as well.
Now you might assume that O’Rourke — the referee from the Anaheim game — was involved with Karlsson’s diving call in Buffalo. But in actual fact, the two referees that night in Buffalo were Paul Devorski and Marcus Vinnerborg.
And on Thursday night in San Jose, the officiating crew of Brad Kimmerly and Steve Kozari failed to call a penalty against Sharks forward Patrick Marleau, after he blatantly elbowed Karlsson in the face. Karlsson went down, his nose bloodied, but there was no call from the referees, even though it appeared to be in plain view of the officials. These are examples of three different officiating crews believing that Karlsson is a diver, or at least someone who embellishes in their estimation.
So while the raw numbers don’t seem to indicate that Karlsson is a diver, he has clearly garnered a reputation as one by some of the officials in the NHL. And the problem with being labeled a diver is that perception is reality — even if the numbers don’t back it up.