Why I've accepted coincidental diving penalties

It's a scene I'd seen many times before (and that's not a crack at the player involved, though the frequency of these calls is perking my fan sensibility): Atlanta Thrashers forward Rich Peverly had his stick caught in the body of San Jose Sharks forward Devin Setoguchi; Setoguchi's arms flail up like he's just been asked if anyone wants a free pony ride and he soon hits the ice. The call? Two minutes for hooking on Peverly and two minutes for diving on Setoguchi.

Sharks broadcaster Drew Remenda commented that it's a call he still doesn't understand; it's either a hook or a dive, it can't be both.

And for a while, I agreed with that sentiment. But lately, I'm starting to go the other way and support the idea of calling matching minors on the play. Here's what the official NHL rulebook says on diving:

64.1 Diving / Embellishment – Any player who blatantly dives, embellishes a fall or a reaction, or who feigns an injury shall be penalized with a minor penalty under this rule.


64.3 Fines and Suspensions - Regardless if a minor penalty for diving / embellishment is called, Hockey Operations will review game videos and assess fines to players or goalkeepers who dive or embellish a fall or a reaction, or who feign injury. See also Rule 28 – Supplementary Discipline. The call on the ice by the Referee is totally independent of supplementary discipline.

The first such incident during the season will result in a warning letter being sent to the player or goalkeeper. The second such incident will result in a one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine. For a third such incident in the season, the player shall be suspended for one game, pending a telephone conversation with the Director of Hockey Operations. For subsequent violations in the same season, the player’s suspension shall double (i.e. first suspension – one game, second suspension – two games, third suspension – four games, etc.) See also Rule 28 – Supplementary Discipline.

I know plenty of people agree with Remenda but a closer examination of the rule makes one thing clear: it's purely talking about the player who dives and has absolutely nothing to do with the infraction done to him.

(Apologies for not having video of this. I'm pretty sure embedded game highlights are only hits, saves, and goals, not hooking penalties. If you know how to get this otherwise, let me know in the comments.)

So in the case of Peverly and Setoguchi, you've got two separate but simultaneous infractions. First, Peverly's stickwork leads to a hooking call. Second, and independent of that, Setoguchi flails in embellishment.

First off, I think we all agree that Mike Ribiero antics of feigning injury like the world's most overacting soccer playerr are out of bounds and just don't belong in the game. This type of flopping, though, is a little more difficult to ascertain in real time. Pro athletes will do anything to get an edge. If a subtle -- or not so subtle -- bit of theatrics grabs the ref's attention so that they don't miss the call, then you're going to see this happen. To me, the logic lies in the separation of the infractions. If they don't call the second diving penalty, then that's just going to reinforce that diving in this fashion is acceptable -- or even necessary to get the call. However, by making the call on the dive, the refs are telling the players as a whole that they'll get the first penalty, there's no need to do the extra antics.

The next time you see something like this happen, take a step back and don't think of both penalties as connected. Instead, look at what player A did -- was it hooking/tripping/holding/etc.? If yes, then that's a penalty and the refs got it right. Separate from that, did Player B dress up what happened by flailing all over the ice? If yes, then that's diving.

No one wants diving in the game, and the only way to try and minimize it is to call it whenever it happens -- whether it's related to another penalty or not. Until someone comes up with a better solution, I'm willing to accept this.

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