NHL to crackdown on diving

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The NHL doesn’t want its sport to turn out like professional soccer has and is hoping to do something about it. The league said it wants to nip the art of player diving in the bud before it gets any worse. Of course, pro soccer has a tarnished reputation for diving around the world with numerous players looking for a penalty kick to be called.

The same type of unsportsmanlike conduct has slowly crept into the NHL over the past couple of seasons and the league apparently wants to come up with an effective way to curb it. While the act is called “diving” in soccer, the NHL refers to it as embellishment and already has instituted a rule to deal with it. If a referee feels a player has dived or embellished after being hit by an opponent, then a two-minute minor penalty may be called. In some instances, the player who makes the physical contact and the player who embellishes it will both receive penalties.

Several NHL referees and players got together in Toronto, Canada recently to discuss a number of league rules and the embellishment rule was one which garnered quite a bit of attention. Colin Campbell, senior executive vice president of the NHL, told the media that many players in the league would like to see the rule enforced more strictly. He claimed that players want the divers to be identified by the league either by the officials or by video replay.

Players even came up with the idea of having the league produce an updated list of players who earn penalties for diving so fans can see who they are. Some of the players who publicly voiced their opinions on the matter were center Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators, defenseman Kevin Bieksa of the Vancouver Canucks, and defenseman John-Michael Liles of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Campbell added that the majority of players in the league are getting tired of those who are diving to the ice every time they feel contact or a stick on their body. He said the players obviously think the best way to stop the dilemma is to publicly embarrass those who are caught embellishing. Campbell feels if the referees see a list of players who are prone to diving, they won’t get the benefit of the doubt during games.

According to current NHL rules, players who blatantly embellish or dive can be identified by reviewing videotapes of past games. Those who are found to be guilty can be punished with fines or penalties after the fact. If a player is deemed to have committed embellishment, the league will send a warning letter for the first infraction. If it happens a second time, the player could be fined up to $1,000. And finally, a third infraction would result in a game suspension and the ban would then be doubled for every infraction after that.

While some fans and players feel it’s a noble idea to try and reduce diving, they feel it’s hard to prove if a player has embellished. The speed and physicality of the game creates instances when players haven’t been fouled and haven’t necessarily dived either.

What do you think, should the league crackdown on divers?