One of the NHL’s rule changes for the 2014-15 season is a crackdown on diving. The league has been watching the increase in dives, specifically addressing the topic in their 2014 Competition Committee meeting, a session which ultimately led to changes implemented for the coming season.

Embellishment in the game is a real problem today,” said NHL VP Colin Campbell. “We understand players try to draw penalties. We feel it’s out of control.”  The players agreed.

“The players came to us and talked to us about wanting to clamp down on diving and embellishing,” said NHL VP Bill Daly, “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.”

Plekanec Embellishmen - @myregularface

Tomas Plekanec Called for Diving vs. New York Rangers in 2014 Eastern Conference Final

The upcoming rule changes, which now include supplemental reviews of diving plays and fines for players and coaches, look to help curb diving. But is it enough?  Late in a game, trailing by a goal, is a maximum fine of $5,000 going to give a player second-thoughts about taking a dive to get a call?

From Pat Leonard at the NY Daily News:

Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, told the Daily News via email on Friday that the NHL’s new fines for players and coaches for excessive diving will be determined after each game by video review, regardless of the call on the ice. In other words, just because a player isn’t called for embellishment in a game doesn’t mean the league can’t charge him for it later.

The NHL hasn’t determined whether it will publicize its decisions, Daly said.

That differs slightly from what ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported just two days earlier.

And what Elliotte Friedman posted in his 30 Thoughts:

The league wasn’t so sure about publicly naming those warned or fined, but the players pressed for it.

So which is it?

NHL VP Colin Campbell has already indicated that the players want the convicted divers made public. “They want to get [the list] out there,” Campbell 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.”

Rob Vollman's Hockey Abstract 2014 - Diving

(from Rob Vollman’s Hockey Abstract 2014. Used with permission)

The NHL’s latest diving crackdown – of which one former official is extremely skeptical – won’t work because of the player fines. A maximum fine of $5,000 is hardly a deterrent when the minimum player salary is over a hundred times that amount.  No, the greater deterrent is to publicize players who dive. The league knows this.

“What I will say about our players is that fines are meaningful, regardless of the amount,” NHL VP Bill Daly told Sportsnet’s Fan 590. “I think it has to do with essentially being called out. I think that’s really the purpose of the fine.”

The fines are symbolic, the amount insignificant — the league is practically admitting as such.  The real punishment is the shame of being included on the list. Sharing the list with the officials and in the 30 team dressing rooms would be good.  Sharing it with the media and the public would be better.

From Chris Peters of CBS Sports:

You can define embellishment any number of ways, but whether you call it gamesmanship or flat out cheating, it’s something the league would clearly rather not be associated with.  […]

If the players are collectively prepared to be held accountable for diving and trying to sell calls, the league can take a positive step in publicizing their decisions on embellishment. Pride, and by default shame, can be powerful motivators.

A player who dives in a game will get called out. He’ll go and sit for two minutes. A player who’s identified as diving after the fact via video review… well, unless the list gets published, that stays private. If the dive is the same, why put pressure on the referees to try to publicly identify the infractors?

Pittsburgh’s Joe Vitale nearly puts himself through the glass

Pittsburgh’s Joe Vitale nearly puts himself through the glass (via @myregularface)

“[The NHL and NHLPA] worked together on a framework that we thought would be effective — and we think this will be effective,” said Daly. “Obviously, if it’s not effective, you re-evaluate and ramp it up in ways that make it more effective.”

The monetary impact to the players is minimal.  The ‘police blotter’ report of infractions – especially if it’s made public – will likely be much more effective.