NCAA Hockey: Penalize Player Embellishment

ncaahockeyIf you have been watching the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, you will know that embellishment has been a hot button issue this spring.

Before we point fingers, I have seen a lot of the teams in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs embellishing on penalties.

This past week, during game five of the Eastern Conference Finals, New York Rangers forward Martin St. Louis hit Montreal Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec in the upper body with a high-stick. Plekanec threw his head back exaggerating the impact of the St. Louis high-stick. The refs called a penalty on the play and assessed Plekanec a two-minute minor penalty for diving. The Canadiens forward seemed miffed by the call. Nonetheless, the penalty was warranted. A review of the play showed that Plekanec’s embellishment was blatant.

 Embellishment a problem in division I hockey

Embellishment isn’t just an NHL issue. Division I college hockey has had a problem with player embellishment. Last season, UND head coach Dave Hakstol was asked about this subject.

“It’s a huge problem,” Hakstol said. “But nobody wants to address it. Teams are being rewarded for embellishing and diving. That’s been the case over the last several years. It’s getting worse. Until we want to address it as a body of coaches on a consolidated basis as leagues, it will get worse.”

Paul Stewart’s NCAA Proposal

On Wednesday, I was listening to the Hockey Night in Canada Radio on XM 211. During the 3:00 p.m. hour of Wednesday’s show, former NHL Official and current ECAC Director of Officials Paul Stewart was on the show with co-hosts Rob Pizzo and Elliotte Friedman. Steward was discussing various officiating issues surround the game of hockey.

When Stewart was asked about the subject of embellishment, he stated that he had just proposed a new NCAA rule to deal with punishing players that embellishment. I think college hockey fans will find this rule interesting. (Link to the show)

“You invent a new penalty,” Stewart said. “You give the player who takes the dive the embellishment – that grabs his head – like the guy the other night. You give him a five-minute misconduct, and it’s announced as a misconduct for unsportsmanlike conduct.  It’s not a timed penalty. If he gets three of them he sits for a game. If he gets a fourth, he sits for two games. And you know what, that cures the problem. Anyone can call them, a linesman or a referee.”

I think this is a great idea. This rule would bring integrity back to the college game. Seriously, wouldn’t it be nice if the on-ice officials in college hockey actually punished the players that embellished? Let’s also give the embellishment penalty some teeth. A player that has two five-minute misconducts for embellishing is going to think twice before he takes a dive, to draw another penalty.

Personally, I like this proposal by the ECAC Director of Officials. I hope the NCAA adopts this proposal. I think if this rule was called correctly, you could significantly cut down the embellishment in college hockey. The NCAA supports good sportsman ship and diving is poor sportsmanship. Let’s make this happen.