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Competition Committee: Embellishment is ‘out of control’

Jun 9, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT

2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Two Getty Images

The NHL’s Competition Committee met for five hours on Monday, yet they didn’t come to a consensus on many major issues. There was one key exception, though: the league clearly wants to cut down on embellishment.

“We feel (embellishment) is out of control,” Campbell said, according to the Canadian Press’ Stephen Whyno.

There certainly were some high-profile moments of perceived “diving” in Game 2 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, particularly in an unusually penalty-heavy overtime. Many were unhappy about a penalty Rick Nash drew on Justin Williams and an interference call Jeff Carter received on Henrik Lundqvist.

Beyond that recent example, few playoff series go by without a fan base accusing the opposing teams of rampant embellishment.

The Competition Committee’s big twist is that punishments might not just extend to players, but the coaches/teams involved, as well.

Of course, some would argue that players might feel the need to “act” a bit to draw obstruction penalties that normally go unnoticed. There weren’t any reports about increasing awareness of “clutch and grab” infractions during those meetings, however.

Naturally, any changes stemming from this meeting would need to pass through some hoops before they become new or altered rules.

Stay tuned for more on that lengthy meeting, from marginal tweaks on existing rules to everyone’s favorite subject of goalie interference.

  1. elmerbrownelmerbrown - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    I put a Rangers jersey on while reading this and it took about an hour because I kept cork screwing my self into the ground and laying there for about 30 sec not moving

    • avscup - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:14 PM

      LOL…you would be considered dead with a Canadians jersey on

    • idonthavethebloodyoucrave - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:18 PM

      That was a good one! Even funnier because it’s true!

    • imleftcoast - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:30 PM

      Is this going to hit the Bruins’ salary cap?

  2. avscup - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:13 PM

    How about if they start with the officiating? Seems to me, the officials have become the biggest problem. Start fining them for bad calls and blown calls and you will see the game improve.

    As for the diving, how about taking 1/2 of a players salary for a game? Make it hurt, it will go away.

  3. canucks30 - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:16 PM

    Colin Campbell always talks about addressing issues like this and others but nothing ever seems to come out of it.

    The NHL needs to let him go and bring in some new people to work in their front office regarding health and safety and supplemental discipline.

  4. runhigh24 - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:20 PM

    Embellishment is no different than any other penalty in that it will go away if you enforce it. Why did players keep nut shotting each other? Because players kept getting away with it.

    • 19inarow - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      Who, besides Lucic and Crosby? Seriously, I can’t recall any other “nut shooters.”

      • hrudey - Jun 9, 2014 at 7:07 PM

        How could you forget Deputy Dickspear himself, Corey Perry?

  5. pigeonbutt - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:29 PM

    Make an official point system – after each game a committee goes over the calls made in the game and notes each dive, which really shouldn’t require much effort. Clear cut dives are noted as one point, embellishing a legit call (over-reacting a headsnap on an actual high-stick) are noted but not counted as a point.

    Tabulate these points and keep video review for reference. Perhaps keep both a team point system as well as for individuals. After 3 or so against a team they receive a fine, 3-5 against a player gives a game suspension for unsportsmanlike. Players will be able to challenge and refer to the video review. Refs can point to consistent embellishment against a player if one of the dives is questionable. Keep a scaled point system for the regular season and playoffs (playoffs obviously requiring less points for a punishment).

    At the beginning of each game the refs skate to each bench and inform the coach they received two points or whatever from their players diving. Tell them they are X away from a fine.

    Obviously not perfect and can leave room for discretion (dive vs. embellishment) but it keeps a record system for reference, gives the referees the power of empirical evidence to warn coaches/players and adds a real deterrent for the players – risking their coach/team getting fined as well as personal suspension.

    • cybernetikghost - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      That is way complicated. I think I would rather just complain about diving.

  6. drewsylvania - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    Warnings and fines? Try ACTUALLY CALLING DIVING.

    • c9castine - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:51 PM

      woah woah…dont be so logical…

  7. mikeyhigs - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    Part of the problem with embellishment is that you rarely, if ever, see them just call embellishment. It’s usually matching minors even when embellishment was clearly the only real penalty taken.

    • raoool - Jun 9, 2014 at 7:18 PM

      bingo. there’s rarely a call for just diving or embellishment – it’s only ever called as part of coincidental minors. Make it a ‘real’ penalty that gives the other team a power play and you’ll see a lot less self-induced whiplash

    • stakex - Jun 9, 2014 at 7:54 PM

      Well that’s true, but part of the reason is because a lot of times there actually is a penalty on the play when embellishment occurs. An easy fix would be to make it so any embellishment would automatically cancel out the original call.

      • stakex - Jun 9, 2014 at 7:57 PM

        You could also make embellishment a double minor when there was in fact a legit penalty on the play, since the idea of simply ignoring penalties under any circumstances probably wouldn’t fly.

      • Moop - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:29 PM

        I agree. There shouldn’t be embellishment and an actual penalty; if the player feels the need to embellish in order to get a penalty called, it probably wasn’t bad enough to call in the first place.

      • c9castine - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:52 PM

        you must be the only person in the world who’s mom told you “little stakey, two wrongs make a right.”

  8. drewsylvania - Jun 9, 2014 at 6:43 PM

    This is all so much PR BS. They’re trying to buy themselves time by saying “we’re looking into it”.

  9. bengalinjersey - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:18 PM

    Of course it’s about the 2 penalties the rangers drew that were true penalties but not the bullsh$/t calls the refs missed in the goalie interference & the delay of game in the 2nd OT!!!!

  10. stakex - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:19 PM

    There are some changes you could make to the rules to deal with the amount of diving/embellishment going on, such as I mentioned above, but that’s probably not even necessary. There are already rules on the subject, but the problem is they are rarely used. The first step in getting rid of it is, you know, actually enforcing the rules against it more than the few token calls we see each year.

    For example, diving occurs in every game… yet last season there were only 33 diving/embellishment calls all season (about one every 21 games in the 48 game season). That’s pretty bad when everyone agrees that its an “out of control” problem. So start there…. with actually enforcing the rules we already have.

    • falstaffsmind - Jun 10, 2014 at 9:49 PM

      The problem is, with the speed things are happening, at ice level, it can be hard to detect. A better system would be game reviews with single game suspensions for obvious dives and embellishments. The one I hate is when a player is barely grazed with a high stick, and their head snaps back like they took a Nolan Ryan heater to the noggin and they fall to the ice clutching their face. They need an annual award with a soccer ball trophy for the biggest diver.

  11. twesty85 - Jun 9, 2014 at 8:33 PM

    One more official on ice might help…

  12. titansbro - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:12 PM

    Putting it on the refs to call in real time is probably too much to ask. But just like the with goal review in Toronto, have the NHL officials buzz the refs if they miss it on the ice. I like the double minor idea to put the flippers on the PK. But if they try to do BS $5K fines like the NBA then it won’t work, just like it hasn’t worked in the NBA. But I agree, it’s out if control. Gotta do something about it ASAP.

  13. ducksk - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    I just threw my head back and arms up and fell to my knees. Did they embellish back in the day? No, not very much.

  14. anthj99 - Jun 9, 2014 at 9:57 PM

    Take the fall. Act hurt. Get indignant. One more time. Take the fall. Act hurt. Get indignant.

  15. stixzidinia - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    No, obstruction is what is out of control. The diving is a direct result of the obstruction. If guys are going to be able to get away with clutch and grab more and more……then there will be guys who will, more and more, take advantage. Kill the obstruction and you put a serious dent in the diving. And the game is made better two fold.

    • c9castine - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:54 PM

      i agree. they are equally bad problems and seem to be related.

      ive seen a lot of obstruction not called this year and as that has creeped in over the years since the 2005 lockout so has epidemic like embellishment and acting.

      • comeonnowguys - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM

        It wasn’t as bad as 2012. They just stopped calling it partway through the season. Not at all surprising, then, the teams that went deep in the West: Kings, Coyotes, Blues and Preds.

        Last year, they didn’t let it slide as much, and the cynic in me chalks that up to them wanting to loosen things up to bring interest back after a lockout.

        If last year was an anomaly, and the grabass is here to stay, it’s bad for hockey. I am not one of those more, goals, better game guys at all. Everyone loved that first OT period from Kings/Hawks, and that didn’t have any goals, just great back and forth hockey.

        just bugs me when you can turtle as a gene strategy and be successful.

      • c9castine - Jun 10, 2014 at 12:58 PM

        im not a more goals is better guy either. but obstruction is boring and frustrating to watch.

        i wanna watch guys skate and play hockey dont care much what kind it is. some teams seem to clutch and grab and obstruct as a strategy – boston, NY, montreal to an extent, red wings i see doing it sometimes…its sloppy frustrating hockey to watch. thats why people were so much less enthused about the NY-montreal series. too much crap going on that wasnt real hockey.

    • comeonnowguys - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Can’t agree more. Lately it seems they call it sometimes in the first two periods, but swallow the whistle in the third.

      That perhaps is the most frustrating. If it’s a penalty, it shouldn’t matter when it happens.

  16. soj83 - Jun 9, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    Does anyone else remember a few years back, when the league started listing the players called for dives, and any subsequent dive/embellishment was either a fine or suspension? What happened to that?

  17. mikemj - Jun 9, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    This is easy. Make embellishment a major penalty and enforce it. Review games and enforce uncalled diving penalties in the following game.
    Most of all: if play has to be stopped because a player is “hurt” he should not be allowed to return to action for 20 minutes, the equivalent of one period. If someone is hurt so bad that the game has to be stopped he shouldn’t come back into the game right away anyway. Yet how often do you see a guy limping or being helped to the bench, only to return for the second shift of the ensuing power play?

    • comeonnowguys - Jun 10, 2014 at 11:53 AM

      Are you forgetting about shot blocks and stingers, or do you simply not care?

  18. papajack1259 - Jun 10, 2014 at 6:32 AM

    The King of embellishment is Subban and Montreal it’s an art form
    honestly as long as the refs do not blow a whistle unless it is a high elbow to the head , it would be OK with me the best Hockey is when there is no Ref obstruction!
    And please no more refs on the ice

  19. 2qswing - Jun 10, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    Embellishment is out of control because you allowed it to get out of control. It needs to be called independent from a minor on the other team. You turned our beautiful game into the nba. penalize the actors.
    For those saying it is hard to call in real time, there are 4 pairs of eyes on the ice already. More than enough to make real time calls.

  20. tclark10 - Jun 10, 2014 at 6:49 PM

    NHL is getting what they paid for (allowed to happen)…an under-whelming lopsided finals.

    The best team from the east is golfing, because the NHL directed the refs to call it tight in their Eastern 2nd round match. It cost them big time. By applying the controls, it slowed the Bruins down from their usual hitting/power game, which won them the presidents cup. The NHL opted to go with the type of game that kept the Canadiens diving team (140+ penalties on the season) in the series. The Bruins who had the talent to challenge in the finals.

    So the answer to: What beats a bigger, stronger and organized team? A smaller, weaker team that falls down a lot and converts their ensuing penalties into goals. Kudos to Montreal they adapted to the controlled format and took the series in 7 games. The NHL season in the east peaked there, the Chicago v. L.A. series prolonged hockey season, but that was it…

    If the NHL wants to showcase hockey on the global stage it needs its two best teams in a rousing finals, not European soccer style game, please please don’t ruin hockey and let the teams decide, let them play…

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