It was announced last season that the NHL planned on handing out fines to repeat offenders when it came to embellishment. Everyone welcomed the change, although there was a fair amount of speculation regarding the actual application of the rule.
Here's what the NHL came up with to curtail diving:
Citations are issued by the National Hockey League Hockey Operations Department, which tracks all games, logs all penalties for diving or embellishment and flags all plays not called on the ice that in its opinion were deserving of such a penalty. A Citation is issued once Hockey Operations, through its internal deliberations, is convinced that a player warrants sanction.
Revised for the 2014-15 season following offseason approval by the League's Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players' Association, NHL Rule 64 is designed to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. Fines are assessed to players and head coaches on a graduated scale outlined below:
|CITATION#||PLAYER FINE(S)||* HEAD COACH FINE(S)|
|* FOR HEAD COACH, EACH FINE ISSUED TO A PLAYER ON HIS CLUB COUNTS TOWARD TOTAL.|
Essentially, any player that embellished more than once would get fined, and more importantly, publicly shamed for their actions.
James Neal was the first player to receive the public shaming by the Department of Player Safety. His first incident took place on November 13th versus St.Louis, although he did not receive a penalty on the play, only a warning from the league.
Despite the warning, Neal went all out a month later, on December 13th versus the San Jose Sharks.
To be fair, getting hit behind the leg never feels good, although it's clear from the gif that Goodrow hits Neal on his hockey pants, and not behind the knee where there's no padding. Either way, it wasn't enough to make a strong skater like Neal collapse in mid-air. If anything, the fall to the ice probably hurt more than the initial love tap.
The good news is that it gave us a preview of the 2034 Winter Olympics exhibition sport: Hockey hurdling.
The next player to pay the piper was Detroit's Gustav Nyquist. His first incident took place on November 28th versus the New Jersey Devils. The fine occurred after this marvelous piece of embellishment, against the Boston Bruins.
Nyquist was not penalized on the play. In fact, the Bruins were forced to kill a penalty, as Chris Kelly was the only player sent to the box. Fortunately, the DoPS reviewed the play, and correctly identified a blatant acting job. There's no doubt that Kelly's stick is between Nyquist's legs, but there's nothing in Newton's third law of motion that would justify Nyquist flailing his extremities.
The third fine of the season went to Florida's Vincent Trocheck. He earned a warning from the league for his dive on December 12th versus the Red Wings. Given that he was now skating on thin ice, you'd think he'd be a little more careful, but less than a month later Trocheck embellished again, this time against the Capitals.
At first glance, it seems like a legitimate penalty. Brooks Orpik hits Trocheck on the right leg, and down he goes. Upon further review, it becomes clear why the DoPS fined Trocheck; he was hit on the right leg, yet it was his left leg that collapsed.
In your opinion, which one of these three players performed the most egregious dive? Was it James Neal's hurdling, Nyquist's defiance of physics, or Trocheck losing balance on the wrong leg?