Ryan Kesler‘s on ice talent is undeniable as few players in the game bring the level of two-way acumen and grit that he does. That being said, even fewer players are as whiny and take as many dives to embarrass themselves and their teammates as the Vancouver Canucks center does. It has gotten old and to the point where it overshadows his amazing talent and accomplishments as player. For Kesler to be taken seriously going forward, he’ll need to stop being such an embarrassment. No one wants to have a teammate more interested in “drawing” calls (that clearly aren’t there) than skating through checks
Flopping is a bad look for the game, the league and the team doing the flopping as it makes them more likely to not receive borderline calls going forward. The Canucks in recent years earned the reputation as a diving team and made them the scorn of the NHL. Kesler’s flopping was most prominently on display in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins and the 2012 first round against the Los Angeles Kings. In both series the Canucks lost and the victor went on to capture the Stanley Cup. Kesler’s (and his teammates’) antics showed how they did not know how to act like champions as they were outplayed and outclassed throughout both series.
Kesler wasn’t the only Canuck flopping over the past few years (Alex Burrows, Jannick Hansen and both Henrik and Daniel Sedin have all been labeled as such), but his dives have been some of the most noteworthy. While having John Tortorella at the helm last season led to a decrease in flops the dives were still occurring at different points this season. With Tortorella gone and Vancouver being a team in transition, the future for the nucleus of the team is murky at best.
Given the situation in Vancouver it is possible that Kesler could be wearing another team’s jersey next year, and his talent level will surely improve that team. Having said that, wherever he goes he must grow up and understand how much of a black eye his diving gives him and his teammates.