Players pushed for coaching fines because they were ‘encouraged’ to dive

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One of the most talked-about rule changes has been the crackdown on diving — specifically, the decision to fine coaches of offending players.

Now, in what should generate even more talk, it’s been said the players pushed for these punishments amid suggestions they were being coached to dive.

Coyotes GM Don Maloney, who is on the NHL’s competition committee, told the Arizona Republic as much in a recent interview discussing the rule changes:

“There really wasn’t anything there that I disagreed with, quite frankly, because we all sort of put it to the players and to their credit, the interesting thing was the diving fines.

“It was really the players that wanted to add the coaching portion to being fined because they were suggesting that they were being encouraged by the coaches to do it.

“So, OK, well then after a certain point, the coaches do get whacked.”

In early September, the league announced an escalating scale of fines for repeat diving offenders and their coaches:

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While the implication was always there, Maloney’s comments are some of the first openly suggesting players were being instructed to dive. They also further confirm the crackdown was chiefly a player-driven initiative, as opposed to one spearheaded by the league.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said as much earlier this month.

“Fines are meaningful,” Daly told Sportsnet’s Fan 590. “Really, regardless of the amount. And I think it has to do with essentially being called out. I think that’s really the purpose of the fine.

“The players came to us and talked to us about wanting to clamp down on diving, and embellishing, and what they view as kind of cheating the integrity of the game, with respect to that going on on the ice, the unsportsmanlike conduct nature of it.”

Daly’s message is similar to the one NHL senior VP Colin Campbell shared after heading the league’s Rule Enforcement Meeting two years ago. Campbell said the players were pushing hard to get a diver’s list made public.

“They want to get [the list] out there,” he said. “They want the player to be caught, whether it’s on the ice by the referee or by us on video. They are all tired of diving.

“The object is to make them stop eventually and, by doing that, they can get it out there around the League, embarrass them. The referees will know it, too, so the divers don’t get the benefit of the doubt.”

As of last week, though, the NHL remained non-committal about publicizing its divers list. One wonders if the coaching angle might have something to do with that.