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2011 playoffs becoming the Year of the Dive

Ezra Shaw/2011 Getty Images

This is turning into an every night occurrence in these playoffs, but here was San Jose Sharks star Joe Thornton last night with the latest example of "embellishing" a fall:

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I believe the judges gave a 10.0 on that one.

With the NHL warning every team in the past few days that it was going to start cracking down on dives and embellishments, Thornton picked up a minor for "unsportsmanlike conduct" while Johan Franzen went to the box for slashing.

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(Franzen also reaggravated an ankle injury he's been fighting on the play and missed much of the rest of the game.)

For whatever reason, diving and embellishments have been epidemic in these playoffs, with players snapping their heads back or dropping to the ice at the first sign of contact. And often when you watch the plays in real-time, it's difficult to see whether or not to tell if there's an acting job or not, which makes life tough for the officials.

Even some players are calling on their teammates to cut it out.

Eight or nine years ago, there was a big crackdown on these sorts of plays, with the officials calling a diving penalty roughly once every 10 games during the regular season in 2002-03. The past four years, diving calls have dried up considerably, with only 32 made all year during the 2010-11 season.

With this again a problem, however, the league's going to have to go back to the rulebook and Rule 64 for Diving / Embellishment.

One dive, you get a warning. Two, you get a fine. And three, a player receives a one-game suspension.

And they go up from there.

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Here's part of the rule: "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."

In the two seasons right before the lockout, fines for dives were relatively common. They've since disappeared, but with these playoffs quickly becoming the "Year of the Dive," there needs to be a real crackdown again.

Because the last thing the NHL wants is a Thornton-type incident deciding a game in the finals.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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