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NHL Playoffs 2012: Ryan Kesler's Diving in Game 1 Proves He Hasn't Changed

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 28:  Ryan Kesler #17 of the Vancouver Canucks warms up before the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on February 28, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Canucks 2-1 in an overtime shootout.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Nicholas GossCorrespondent IApril 12, 2012

Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler is a phenomenal hockey player who excels at both ends of the ice, but too often he gets caught up in trying to embellish and dive for penalties.

It's strange because Kesler is a physical forward who plays on the edge and leaves everything on the ice. He plays hard and even battles through injuries, like he did in the playoffs last season.

After becoming a better player last year and winning the Selke Trophy, Kesler went back to his uncalled-for antics in Wednesday night's Game 1 against the Los Angeles Kings.

Here is a somersault dive from Kesler after he got tangled up with Kings forward Mike Richards in the third period.

There is absolutely no excuse for a player as strong as Kesler with his size to go down that easily, then look for a penalty right after hitting the ice.

Earlier in the game, Kesler interfered with Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and then embellished by throwing his head back like Quick high sticked him, even though that didn't happen.

These sorts of antics are an embarrassment to the game of hockey and have no place in the sport, especially during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Kesler told Slam Sports last year that he was trying to mature as a player, saying:

“We, collectively and as a group, wanted to mature,” [Kesler] said. “I’m just doing my part.

“I’m focused more. From whistle to whistle, I play hard and let that other stuff go by the wayside.”

He later said:

“I think by the way I play, I’m not a fun guy to play against,” Kesler said. “Stuff after the whistle, that really doesn’t do too much. I think it’s the way I play between the whistles that really makes me effective."

Kesler is absolutely right: He is tough to play against, because of his talent and strength. He's also right when he says that the way he plays between the whistles makes him quite effective.

However, this kind of diving and embellishment between the whistles makes him look like an embarrassment to his team and the sport.

As one of the best American players in the NHL, Kesler needs to set the example of how to play the game the right way, so all the kids watching can play with that same intensity throughout their own careers.

His battles with the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final last season left fans in Boston respecting him, but doing stuff like he did in Game 1 won't earn him any respect at all.

Kesler hasn't matured, and he hasn't learned from past criticism. It's a shame because he's so talented and is exciting to watch when he plays the game with passion and energy.

 

Nicholas Goss is an NHL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He was also the organization's on-site reporter for the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals in Boston.

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