DIVING IN THE NHL: IS IT A PROBLEM?
The idea for today’s blog came from a friend of mine in the Chat room that I visit whose name is Brent: Diving: is it a problem, and can something be done about it?
What is the infraction Diving?
Well I downloaded the NHL rulebook and found the infraction under 64.1, and I quote (and yes I don’t have much of a life):
Diving/Embellishment – Any play or goalkeeper who blatantly dives, embellishes a fall or a reaction, or who feigns an injury shall be penalized with a minor penalty under this rule.
A goalkeeper who deliberately initiates contact with an attacking player other than to establish position in the crease, or who otherwise acts to create the appearance of other than incidental contact with an attacking player, is subject to the assessment of a minor penalty for diving/embellishment.
Obviously, the biggest problem with the rule is the interpretation of the rule. With how many referees there are in the NHL, there are bound to be inconsistencies in interpretation and enforcement.
What can the NHL do about helping the Refs to get together on this issue? Well, first of all, some of the responsibility has to go to the refs to be more consistent. The league has to give more authority to the linesman so that they can help with decision (in other words, four heads are better than two). Give the refs more freedom to make the call; give them the instruction to err on the diving side, making it more of a gamble to do a dive. I thought of one more idea: giving the coaches a challenge on the penalty, forcing the ref to do video review. But that would not work because of the time it would take. It would slow down the game.
IF YOU DO THE CRIME, YOU MUST SERVE THE TIME
The next thing I decided to look into is the penalty of the crime. For that I looked up 64.2:
Minor Penalty – A minor penalty shall be imposed on a player or goalkeeper who attempts to draw a penalty by his action (“diving/embellishment”).
So the infraction calls for a 2 minute minor. Is a 2 minute penalty enough of a deterrent to stop a player from diving? What worries me is how many times the player is doing the dive before he gets caught. I have a possible solution. Give the person a four minute penalty if there are two infractions. There are times that a tripping penalty is warranted, but the player that is acting like he has been shot should get the extra 2 minutes. The league should not have to pay for the acting lessons either.
WHAT OTHER DISCIPLINE HAPPENS TO THE PLAYER?
So what happens to the offenders beside the penalty? What happens with repeat offenders? With that in mind, I looked up 64.3 in the NHL rule book:
Fines and Suspensions – Regardless if a minor penalty for diving embellishment is called, Hockey Operations will review game video and assess fines to players or goalkeepers who dive or embellish a fall or reaction, or who feign injury. See also Rule 29 – Supplementary Discipline. The call on the ice by the Referee is totally independent of supplementary discipline.
Oh by the way, don’t get to excited about those fines. Underneath 64.3, I found this nice little addition:
The first such incident during the season will result in a warning letter being sent to the player or goalkeeper. The second such incident will result in a one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine. For a third such incident in the season, the player shall be suspended for one game, pending a telephone conversation with the Director of Hockey Operations. For subsequent violations in the same season, the player's suspension shall double (ie. first suspension – one game, second suspension – two games, third suspension – four games, etc.) See also Rule 29 – Supplementary Discipline.
So for the first offense, they get a warning letter, which reminds me of all of those letters I brought home from school that mom never saw when I got in trouble. Add something - anything - please give them some kind of retribution. A letter is not going to stop a player from doing anything to win. Next, second offense give them a $1,000 fine. Wow, that is like fining you and me $0.25. Maybe they should look at upping the fines. I really don’t have a problem with the suspensions after the third offense and on. I just think the first two offenses are just not enough of a deterrent. Give them a fine for the first and second offenses.
So in conclusion, let me say this: I am tired of watching players fool refs consistently, and slow down the game to a crawl because of penalties that shouldn’t be called. Now do any of my solutions work? I don’t know, but I do know this much: what is in effect now is not working. That is it for my rant.