Just because baseball’s not around, it doesn’t mean that the discussion of unwritten rules must similarly disappear. Hockey is still in season, and offers its own array of codes. I’m neither a hockey expert nor particularly inclined to document the ice-bound version of The Baseball Codes, but one incident in particular stood out last week. Whereas many of hockey’s unwritten rules pertain to decorum while fighting, this one was strictly about the lack of respect a team can feel while watching a showboater.
After New York Rangers forward Artem Anisimov scored a shorthanded goal against the Lightning, he lifted his stick like a rifle and unloaded a pantomime round into the Tampa Bay net. Whereas the equivalent celebratory action on a baseball diamond might get Anisimov drilled in his next at-bat, the NHL has little need for such restrictions on timing; Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier quickly went after the Russian rookie, sparking a number of brawls that resulted in a total of 38 penalty minutes—including an unsportsmanlike penalty for Anisimov.
It didn’t take Anisimov long to recognize his error. He apologized to his teammates after the game, and to the Lighting the following day.
“I just want to apologize to Tampa,” Anisimov told reporters after practice on Friday, according to the Tampa Tribune. “I didn’t mean something by it. It’s just my celebration, and when I score goals I want to do something unusual. I apologize toTampa. . . . I never do that celebration again. It’s a good lesson for me. No more shooting.”’
If only all lessons could be learned so quickly.