The National Hockey League has handed out its first diving fine to none other than Nashville Predators’ winger James Neal Wednesday. This past Saturday in a game at San Jose, Neal received a minor penalty for diving at 19:39 of the third period. Neal will be fined $2,000 for the incident, and if it occurs again, the fine will increase to $3,000. He was given a warning in a November 13 game at St. Louis. This is the 27-year-old’s second fine of his career.
With the referee sitting on the boards watching, it is no wonder Neal was caught for this outlandish acting job.
The new diving/embellishment rule set up for this season was meant to end the shameful diving that occurs all too often throughout the League. The NHL is heading in the right direction by slapping down supplemental discipline on the players, but thousand dollar fines are not enough to stop it from happening because it is pocket change to players like Neal making millions. After two fines, a suspension should be in order, then the message would be sent.
Besides the Vancouver Canucks, there is not a more iconic player in hockey for diving than Neal. Former NHL referee Paul Stewart wrote this about Neal for HockeyBuzz.com in March:
James Neal is not my type of hockey player. He has been involved in multiple incidents, showing reckless disregard for the safety of fellow players. Furthermore, he’s a player who has acquired the reputation for being a diver.
While the diving continues to remain an issue for Neal, the dirty hits have not yet appeared this season. As long as he keeps scoring and strays away from diving and head-hunting, then he is all right by me in Nashville.