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The problem has become so noticeable that the NHL reportedly issued a directive to officials to call more diving penalties. But that move appears to have just created more controversy. On Saturday, Lightning forward Steve Downie was even given a diving penalty on a hit from behind that left him injured and unable to return to the game.
It's all very frustrating. Short of using lie detector tests or hiring a mind reader, how can a fan really tell whether a player was diving?
Luckily, the league is on the case. Working with officials and forensics experts, they've put together this handy quiz for fans watching the game at home. From now on, if you think you may have witnessed a dive you can simply take a few minutes to answer these questions and arrive at a definitive answer:
A player has hit the ice clutching his head after a borderline penalty. Which of the following would make you suspect a dive?
a.) The replay doesn't show any significant contact to an area that would normally cause a player to grab his head, such as a typical player's face or Joe Thornton's ankle.
b.) The player reacts to the "head injury" in a way that no other player ever does, such as actually going to the NHL-mandated quiet room.
c.) The team's media guide mentions that the player's off-season training partners are Peter Forsberg, Sean Avery and Marcel Marceau.
d.) The borderline penalty he was reacting to was a delay of game call for shooting the puck over the glass.
A high stick appears to make contact with a player's face. After he recovers from the initial contact, you can see that the player is:
a.) Visibly shaken by the impact.
b.) Wiping away what appears to be blood.
c.) Wiping away what appears to be blood, while holding a handful of empty ketchup packets.
d.) Nonchalantly performing his own root canal on the bench in between shifts (Martin St. Louis only).
A nearby microphone has picked up the audio of the play, and on the replay you notice that you can clearly hear:
a.) The sound of a devastating impact that could not have been faked.
b.) The crowd murmuring in confusion over whether they'd witnessed a dive.
c.) The player's teammate banging a clapperboard while yelling "… and, action!"
d.) The player yelling "NOOO" as he dramatically falls to the ice in slow-motion, which is odd since the replay was at regular speed.
A player has been called for diving, but you suspect he may actually be innocent because:
a.) He told the referee he was, and hockey players just don't lie about stuff like that.
b.) You're not sure how he would have got the ambulance driver and all the EMTs to play along like that.
c.) The dive was predicted by hundreds of billboards purchased by Harold Camping followers.
d.) He's one of those weird guys who insists on playing the game as if he has actual dignity and self-respect.
After a big hit on the ice, Daniel Carcillo immediately grabs his face and begins flailing around on the ground. This makes you suspicious, because:
a.) The incident did not seem significant enough to warrant that much of a reaction.
b.) Carcillo has a reputation for occasionally embellishing in attempt to draw calls.
c.) The other player immediately protested that he had barely touched him.
d.) Carcillo's team was eliminated from the playoffs weeks ago, he's currently watching the game next to you in a bar 500 miles away, and he just dusted himself off and explained "Sorry, force of habit."
When all else fails, the easiest way to tell that a player is about to dive is by:
a.) His attempt to make eye contact with the referee first.
b.) His use of his hands to brace himself for a fall.
c.) His old mattress that he dragged out onto the ice for a softer landing.
d.) His Canucks jersey.
You've completed the quiz! To determine whether the play in question was a dive, simply tally up all the answers from your quiz. Figure out which letter you chose most often, and then consult the scoring chart to find out… oh, you know what, forget it. Just use this much simpler version, like every other hockey fan already does:
The player accused of diving plays for:
a.) My favourite team
b.) Some other team
You now have enough information to be convinced beyond any doubt whether you've witnessed a dive or not. Feel free to get on Twitter and start berating people about it.