NHL

Fraser: Diving happens, but more penalties can prevent it

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Kerry Fraser
11/15/2011 11:16:39 PM
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Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry Fraser wants to answer your emails at cmonref@tsn.ca!

Hi Kerry,

In Saturday's Sens/Leafs game, Joffrey Lupul and Jesse Winchester were both given offsetting minor penalties – Lupul for hooking and Winchester for diving. This is a call that is regularly made and as a fan, it is somewhat frustrating and confusing to interpret. In my mind, the player is either hooked, or has dived in an attempt to embellish the incident and tricks the referee into calling a penalty - not both.

I don't recall ever seeing a diving penalty without an offsetting infraction. I would love to get your interpretation on how these calls are made.

Great blog, and thanks for taking the time to educate the fans.

Colin Willey

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Before I answer Colin's question for today, it appears that following the General Managers Meeting today the majority of them agree with the majority of you that the Milan Lucic hit on Ryan Miller is an infraction worthy of a suspension moving forward.  It was also suggested that a major penalty for charging the goalkeeper is more deserving for this type of contact.

Colin:

I can appreciate the confusion that you and other fans might feel when a diving penalty offsets an identified foul at the front end of the play.

Let me explain the rationale as to how it can and does happen:

It's much more than just physics and has a lot to do with the angle that the referee views the play.

For every action there is supposed to be an equal and opposite reaction. This theory goes out the window when a diving penalty is also assessed. I was at the game in Toronto on Saturday night and observed the play from the far end of the press box. From this vantage point I was looking across the ice and into the zone where the infraction occurred. It looked to me as though Joffrey Lupul feebly placed his stick with one hand in a vulnerable penalty position area; namely into or across the midsection of Jesse Winchester.

Immediately recognizing this vulnerability, Lupul released the grip on his stick. In an obvoius delayed reaction, Jesse Winchester fell in an unnatural response to any marginal contact that might have been applied.

It looked to me that if anything was going to be called it should have been a single penalty to Ottawa Senators, Jesse Winchester for diving.  My position would have been akin to the one shared with the back referee on the play, Eric Furlotte, who didn't have his hand raised on the play.

Referee Don Van Massenhoven had a different vantage point—the best one looking into the play from the front view 15 feet away. From this position he could see that the initial placement of the Lupul's stick created a fork hook on the hands of Winchester as he was about to play the puck. In this moment a hooking infraction was correctly identified by Van Massenhoven even though Lupul dropped his stick and raised his hands in innocent surrender.

The reaction of Winchester was far too excessive based on the degree of contact. Winchester's delayed fall was made in an attempt to sell the call. Referee Van Massenhoven was in a selling mood himself and Winchester ended up buying a diving penalty for his embellishment.

That's how you can end up with two penalties on a plays such as this. There is generally some form of contact that might strip a man from the puck or violate some rule. The player that is fouled should not attempt to embellish or he loses the power play that his team would have enjoyed.

While this situation was appropriately dealt with by the referee I would like to see an adjustment in the current standard when dealing with a player that dives. We have to eradicate diving and embellishment from the game. It was rampant in the playoffs last season.  Here's my suggestion.

Identify and assess the first penalty that occurred. If the player fouled embellishes or dives then assess a double minor to the diver!  Instead of going on the power play from the initial infraction (or have the teams play four on four as we saw in Toronto) the player doing the embellishing would now put his team at a true disadvantage. That just might stop the flopping.

Joffrey Lupul, Jesse Winchester (Photo: Brad White/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Brad White/NHLI via Getty Images)
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