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When it comes to diving or embellishment to draw penalties, do referees have access to game tapes or 'diving reels' of serial divers/embellishers? Does the league put out a memo on guys? Any former players you remember that were on a 'naughty list' to watch for?
The home team is responsible for providing both referees with their personal DVD copy of the broadcast (or in-house feed) following the conclusion of the game that they worked that night. The DVD, if utilized properly, can be a useful teaching tool if the ref analyzes his performance in an honest and objective fashion. This is often done on the airplane the next day unless an incident report has to be written following the game. The DVD can be used to confirm something that occurred in the game that night to assist in providing accuracy in the report writing process.
It also gives each referee another look at players that might have attempted to draw a penalty through embellishment/diving. The referee gets to see a different angle of the play in regular speed, slow motion or even freeze frame. At that point, the referee has the same advantage and perspective that you might have had watching the broadcast on television from your living room. I'll bet none of you have ever made a bad call from the Lazy Boy?
Believe me, if I had it confirmed through this valuable little tool that a player attempted to fool me by diving (or worse yet, was successful) he went to the top of my "naughty list." I have a library of game DVD's in my home from the time this program was implemented. I can pull up individual player tendencies from year to year. It's not about seeking retribution, getting even or providing a "payback" to the offender (while I'm sure that has happened on occasion) but more about upholding the integrity of the game by not getting fooled. It used to really offend me when players were dishonest in faking injury or blatantly embellishing light contact. Referees are human and I ask you how you would feel if someone came into your work place and attempted to "swindle" you under false pretense? You just might adapt the adage of "fool me once good for you; fool me twice, shame on me". I bet your "radar" would be up the next time that individual skated through your door; you might even have a long memory.
Hockey Ops has the power to fine and even suspend repeat offenders who blatantly dive, even if the referee doesn't call a penalty under Rule 64 - Diving/Embellishment. When this was implemented there was an initial list that circulated amongst the referees. It was quickly determined that this could create a bias (certainly the perception of one) and the compiling of any list would be better left on an individual basis.
Very early in my career and long before the implementation of the Diving Rule, I would become very stubborn when a player flopped on me; especially in his home rink designed to draw the wrath of the partisan crowd against me. If the player persisted in this course of conduct, even legitimate fouls could be overlooked. I learned a valuable lesson as to the inappropriateness of this approach in the Edmonton Northlands Coliseum in the 1981-82 season by none other than "The Great One" himself. He was so frustrated with me by the end of the game that he even thanked me for giving him a penalty. I wrote about it in my book but will give you the short version.
The Philadelphia Flyers were the guests that evening and Wayne Gretzky started "falling down" very early the game and looked my way before he hit the ice to see if my arm was raised. The more Wayne dove and the crowd yelled, the more secure the whistle remained in my pocket.
With under a minute to play and the Flyers up by one goal, Wayne was in his "office" behind the goal. Pelle Lindbergh caught the puck and I whistle play stopped. Gretz, standing all alone behind the net, leaped into the air and threw his hands forward, his feet stretched out behind him, and executed a belly flop worthy of a perfect score. Bobby Clarke skated up to Wayne and said, "Get up you $%& baby."
I was on the scene and said, "Wayne, what are you doing? Nobody was within 10 feet of you." Wayne hit the boiling point and clearly had enough of me as he responded, "You wouldn't have called it anyway; you haven't called a %$* thing all night!"
I said, "You're right, and I'm going to start right now: you've got two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct." As Wayne Gretzky stormed past me on the way to his dressing room he shouted, "Thanks! It's about $%& time you called something!"
I didn't have a DVD of that game. I didn't need one. I recognized that my conduct and response to the attempts of a player to draw penalties was totally unacceptable. I had compromised my integrity and that of the game. I needed to change and I went about doing that.
Fellow Sarnia, Ontario native, Dino Ciccarelli was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last season; a well deserved honour. While he was a prolific scorer and went into the hard areas in front of the net his uniform could often be as wet on the outside from diving as it was on the inside from sweat. That's no deference to Dino's work ethic; he just fell down whenever he was touched but usually bounced right back up so as not to take himself out of the play. One night in the Joe Louis Arena, Dino went down six times on one shift in the corner and maintained possession of the puck each time. He never complained about not drawing the penalty - he just kept trying! It was actually quite comical.
It wasn't his diving that made me laugh hardest but an attempt one night to grab an assist. A goal was scored by Dino's team with him sitting on the player's bench. After assessing the goal, I went to centre ice and watched Dino and his line come onto the ice. He skated right up to me and said, "Frase, I got an assist on that goal." I grinned and said, "Dino, you must have the longest stick in the league because if you got an assist on that play you did it while sitting on the player's bench. I just saw you come onto the ice after the goal was scored." Dino further appealed to his "hometown referee" and said, "Come on Frase, I'm in a slump and haven't scored a point in two games."
Wow, two whole games - that was a slump for Dino. I laughed and said just shoot the puck and it will go in. It wasn't long after that the puck did go in for him. There weren't many nights that it didn't. There weren't many nights that he didn't dive either.
Everyone is innocent until proven guilty; at least in the eyes of the law. I just can't say the same is always true in the eyes of the referee...
This should be a fantastic Stanley Cup Final between two evenly matched teams; right down to the embellishers.