This season, the NHL is hitting accused divers where it hurts. Guess which Bruins player doesn’t like that?
Under a new set of rules for this season, players will be given a warning for their first dive, a $2,000 fine for their second, a $3,000 fine for their third, a $4,000 fine for their fourth and a $5,000 fine for any and every dive after that.
They’ll also likely find themselves in the doghouse, as coaches will be fined $2,000 if one of their players dives a fourth time, $3,000 if they dive a fifth time and $5,000 for any other dives.
Brad Marchand, a player with a track record of embellishment penalties, was given the first of the 2014-15 season Thursday night when he was sent off for selling a Henrik Zetterberg interference penalty. The penalty came on the first shift of the second period.
There was just one problem: Marchand didn’t appear to dive on the play. It looked like, after passing the puck back to the point in the offensive zone, he was trying to avoid Zetterberg by jumping around him.
(GIF courtesy of Boston.com, and apologies for it being so small. I don’t know how to use computers.)
Both Marchand and Claude Julien took issue with the call, which in all likelihood shouldn’t have been a penalty on either player. Whether Zetterberg even knew Marchand was there when they made contact is up for debate as well.
Dives — whether penalized or not — are reviewed before action is taken by the league’s part. Julien said that to his knowledge, Marchand did not receive a warning for the play. However, the Bruins will know more soon, as a list comes out each week indicating which players have earned a strike.
Whether or not the clock has started on him, Marchand still opposes the league’s new approach.
“I think the new rule is a little absurd,” Marchand told WEEI.com Saturday. “It’s all a judgment call by the referee. How do you judge how guys are on their balance, how they’re on their skates? What if they’re on one foot and on their turn a guy gets pushed? Does that mean that he has embellished?
“The fact that guys are going to start getting fined for it, I don’t agree with that. It’s all the discretion of the referee and you’ve got to try to play within the rules. We’re going to try to find that line, but at end of the day, it’s up to the referees with what they want to call, and you’ve got to live with it.”
Though certain teams — the Bruins certainly among them – have played the “everyone dives but us” card over the years, the fact is that if you want to look for it, there’s proof of selling calls with every team and many, many players throughout the league. Some are known more for it than others, and some of Marchand’s more egregious sell-jobs, as well as closer calls, have earned him a reputation that might make keeping all of his $4.5 million salary more of an uphill climb this season.
Marchand is correct, however, when he questions what is is viewed as embellishment. He brought up a terrific example of a player grabbing his face when he has not been hit with a stick.
“There’s no real definition of embellishing,” Marchand said. “Even when a guy sees a stick up on his face, it happens so quick, it might not hit you, but at the same time, you’re going to react to a stick up within inches of your face. It’s just everyone’s natural reaction. Sometimes it hits you, sometimes it may not. Yeah, you might think it’s going to hit you and you move your head back and that’s [considered] embellishing. It’s just a natural reaction; you may not been mean to do it.”
Marchand knows he has a reputation for many things, and diving is among them. Of all the things for which he’s known, Marchand says the ‘diver’ label is the most infuriating.
“It is,” he said. “Especially after a play like last game, I think it was an absolutely ridiculous call, and the fact that now I have a strike against me because of something like that [Editor's note: Again, Julien said Marchand does not]. I don’t think you can argue anything; I had my feet completely taken out from under me. What are you supposed to do there? It’s a bit of a ridiculous call, but that’s how it is.”
Julien says that he has ‘no doubt’ that referees are more inclined to call such penalties on Marchand, but he puts that on the player.
“That’s up to him to clean up that situation. He created it, right?’ Julien said. “I think he’s done a great job this year of staying focused and just playing his game. Whether he gets in the other team’s kitchen or not, that’s part of his game. But I think it’s just about making sure you don’t lose the respect of your referees by chirping or by continuing to do things after the whistle when they tell you to stop. I think that’s where he’s lost those guys a little bit. You can always redeem yourself, or you’d like to think players can, he’s really tying to do that.”
Julien has gone after other teams – specifically the Canadiens – in the past for embellishing. On Saturday, however, he admitted what many know to be true but don’t always want to say: Everyone dives.
“I don’t encourage embellishment. I don’t want to see it. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen every once in a while on our team,” Julien said. “Like anybody else, I just don’t like it. Our players are clear on that. We’re not clean; we do make those kind of mistakes every once in a while, and when it becomes an issue, it gets addressed.
“The league is doing a great job of trying to take that out of the game, and I think it’s a real important thing to our game to take out because it really tarnishes what this game’s all about.”