Thursday, 18 December 2014

Predator James Neal first player to receive NHL's slap on the wrist for embellishment.

So the National Hockey League got tough on diving, and announced that it fined James Neal $2 000 for a shameful, transparent flop against the San Jose Sharks.  Barclay Goodrow had just given him a relatively innocuous tap on the pants, which is par for the course in the NHL.

Instead of having this labyrinthine system of warnings and inconsequential fines and public shamings, wouldn’t it easier for the NHL to declare that diving is an attack on the integrity of the game, like spitting at an opponent, or doctoring the ball or corking your bat in baseball? That this is an infraction that is grounds for a major penalty and an immediate expulsion from the game, and further suspensions?  It would clean it up overnight.

There might be some actors out there who’ve made a few incidents look very natural, but how many more are so transparent they leap right off the video for you? Think about the Bruins diving video, every single one of these dives is as clear as the day is long, there is no debate about these. So you hit those incidents, just like when you catch a pitcher red-handed with the nail file in his pocket.

The thing is, when a player dives, he’s trying his best to make it look good, and doesn’t really know how it looks outwardly. So the players have no way of telling which dive they’ll pull off, which they won’t. With a substantial penalty, with consequences, with the fact that they may hurt their team by doing so entering their mental equation, I think 90% of dives are eliminated, at least.

Further, to assist referees, let’s use video, like in instances when a player is not penalized for an action on the ice, but can still be punished later by the league. Do the same with diving. If the refs can’t make the call instantly, but it can be seen clearly on video, the player will be disciplined.

Another change would be to discard the section in the rules that states that non-aggressive slashing isn’t really slashing, and just tell the players that you can only play the puck with your stick. That would help the referees to not have to evaluate how much slashing, in what situation, under which circumstances, and at which point in the game or season does it take to actually constitute slashing.
Rule 61 – Slashing
61.1 Slashing – Slashing is the act of a player swinging his stick at an opponent, whether contact is made or not. Non-aggressive stick contact to the pant or front of the shin pads, should not be penalized as slashing. Any forceful or powerful chop with the stick on an opponent’s body, the opponent’s stick, or on or near the opponent’s hands that, in the judgment of the Referee, is not an attempt to play the puck, shall be penalized as slashing.
61.2 Minor Penalty – A minor penalty, at the discretion of the Referee based on the severity of the contact, shall be imposed on a player who slashes an opponent.
61.3 Major Penalty – A major penalty, at the discretion of the Referee based on the severity of the contact, shall be imposed on a player who slashes an opponent. When injury occurs, a major penalty must be assessed under this rule (see 61.5).
61.4 Match Penalty – The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match penalty if, in his judgment, the player attempted to or deliberately injured his opponent by slashing.
61.5 Game Misconduct Penalty – Whenever a major penalty is assessed for slashing, a game misconduct penalty must also be imposed.
61.6 Penalty Shot – refer to Rule 57.3 – Tripping.
61.7 Awarded Goal – refer to Rule 57.4 – Tripping.
61.8 Fines and Suspensions – There are no specified fines or suspensions for slashing, however, supplementary discipline can be applied by the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 28).

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