We can debate night and day about which sport is the toughest and therefore worthy of induction into the Mountain Dew Extreme Hall of Fame, but few would doubt that hockey is in the conversation. Still, there are times when hockey shows some of its ugliest soccer-inspired roots: precisely when a player embellishes a penalty and “dives” to the ice.
It’s one of those moments when a player transforms from “inspiring rags-to-riches person” to an unpublishable word or three. Thankfully, the league is placing greater influence on cracking down on the shameful tactic. Darren Dreger points out the recent increase in diving penalties.
There were no diving penalties called in the first 44 postseason games, yet in the last 10 games, five have been assessed.
Terry Gregson, the NHL’s director of officiating says the league is cracking down. Gregson says embellishment was evident in the first round.
In Game 6 of the Washington Capitals-Montreal Canadiens quarterfinal series, three diving penalties were assessed, including two on Canadiens forward Maxim Lapierre.
Detroit’s Darren Helm was also called for diving in Game 7 versus the Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh’s Ruslan Fedotenko was tagged in the semi-final opener against Montreal.
The two diving calls Lapierre received actually inspired me to bring up the subject for last week’s Pucktales comic. On some sick level, Oscar-worthy acting can be a boon to a team (just look at the impact Dustin Brown’s swan dives can have on the Los Angeles Kings’ success, for instance). Consider me pleased to hear that the league is looking to reduce the shameful act.
Now, if referees would develop the courage to regularly call diving without throwing the other team in the box with a reciprocal penalty, then they would be on to something.