Diving in the NHL: A Mortal Sin


Apr 11, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Mike Komisarek (5) slides on the ice to block the passing lane of Detroit Red Wings Gustav Nyquist (14) in the first period at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Gustav Nyquist of the Detroit Red Wings and Vincent Trocheck of the Florida Panthers were both fined $2000 by the NHL for diving. But that’s simply not good enough.

Diving in the NHL (also called “embellishment”) is exaggerating contact to draw a penalty. It’s called flopping in the NBA and “making an injury out to be way worse than it really is to get an unofficial timeout” in the NFL. A penalty in hockey, unlike the NBA or NFL, causes your team to go down a player, giving the opposition a distinct advantage. 

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The Nyquist and Trocheck fines were only the second and third fines handed out this season (Predators’ James Neal was the first), which suggests to me that the NHL isn’t taking this problem very seriously. If they were, Dustin Brown and Ryan Kesler would have been fined nearly $1 Billion each. I may be exaggerating a hair on that number.

The issue with diving, though, resides in the fact that it’s causing punishment to someone who doesn’t deserve it and in turn gaining an advantage for the offending team. Not only does the diver come across like a whiny wimp, but he is borderline cheating. No, I take that back. Diving IS cheating. The two things I hate most in sports is cheating and referring to yourself in the 3rd person. Not necessarily in that order.

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One issue with diving is that some of the bigger names in the NHL are serial divers, which, because of their status or popularity, gives a sort of legitimacy to the act. But there is an extreme, but in my opinion, fair way to curb the problem.

Eliminating Diving in the NHL

First of all, let’s take a quick look at the current fines and suspensions for diving or embellishment:

"64.3 Fines and Suspensions – Regardless if a minor penalty for diving / embellishment is called, Hockey Operations will review game videos and assess fines to players or goalkeepers who dive or embellish a fall or a reaction, or who feign injury. See also Rule 28 – Supplementary Discipline. The call on the ice by the Referee is totally independent of supplementary discipline.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 (i.e. first suspension – one game, second suspension – two games, third suspension – four games, etc.) See also Rule 28 – Supplementary Discipline."

As for my idea for elimating diving in the NHL there would be several steps. The first step involves eliminating fines and going immediately to suspensions. It would then follow the already in place guidelines of doubling the suspensions for each offense. All suspensions would be without pay.

The next step comes from the players. If Player A even suspects someone on the other team of diving, Player A should immediately pick a fight with the diver. I don’t care if it’s Sidney Crosby diving or not, pick a fight. If the diver wimps out (as a diver likely would do), then Player A needs to find someone, anyone, on the other team to fight. When Player A is questioned about it later by reporters, he should say, “it was retribution for the dive.” 

I am not normally a proponent of fighting. I think it slows the game down, however, I am NOT against it. It certainly has benefits in a very physical and agressive sport. I am suggesting fighting in this case because divers need punishment that the NHL doesn’t seem to punish as often as it should.

The NHL seems to be slowly shying away from fighting, so if players made it very clear that the increase in fights is due to diving the league may be more likely to crack down on it. Less diving would make a great sport even better.