Fraser: Calling the infraction - and the embellishment

Kerry Fraser
10/16/2013 3:30:51 PM
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Hi Kerry,
I love the column, keep up the good work! It doesn't make me more sympathetic to bad calls by the refs, but it sure explains a lot!
On Tuesday, Zach Bogosian and Lars Eller just went off to the Sin Bin together - Bogosian for interference and Eller for embellishment. How come the refs always call two penalties?
I see it a lot - hooking and diving, tripping and diving. If someone dives, how can the other player be penalized too? Just doesn't add up to me.
Keep up the good work!
David Reimer
Go Jets Go!
Can you please clarify? These are two that I witnessed, but I'm sure there are other folks around the league wondering the same.
1) Semin gets clotheslined by Ovechkin. Ovie gets a penalty but Semin gets the embellishment.
2) PHX-CAR on Sunday afternoon. Pivotal time of game. Ruutu gets tripped. Power play gets nullified by embellishment call.
From a fan's perspective, this is how it should be played out:
If there is a penalty, it should matter not how a guy reacts to the penalty. If there is no penalty called and someone embellishes to try to draw one, call embellishment. Just don't call both. 99% of the time, no one would be flopping around if they didn't feel victimized. Perhaps if there were a few embellishment penalties called when there is no other penalty, embellishment would work it's way out of the game.
Either there is a penalty or a faked one. Make a choice and go with it. I just hate it when someone is victimized and the refs feel like the player didn't react gracefully enough and it wipes out the PP chance. These, as I've seen, can be game-changing events and shouldn't happen.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts. Your column rocks!
- Fraser Van Asch
David and Fraser: (My nephew, David Fraser lives in Sarnia, Ontario!)

I can understand fan confusion, even to the point of frustration when a legitimate infraction worthy of a power play is nullified with a subsequent embellishment penalty. While David's point seems logical (if there is a penalty it should matter not how a guy reacts) individual player integrity and ultimately that of the game must be upheld.  As a Referee I view embellishment as an outward act of "cheating" and I always found it personally offensive whenever a player tried to fool me or bring the wrath of hometown fans against me and my colleagues.

I always maintained a mental list of players whose uniforms were often wetter on the outside from splashing around than on the inside from perspiration. It was a list a player had to skate his way off through honest play.

There wasn't a penalty for embellishment in those days so it was important for the Ref to have his radar up when a known offender hit the ice. Dino Ciccarelli flopped on me four times in the same corner of Joe Louis Arena in a span of 15 seconds one game. He looked like a pin-ball bouncing up as quickly as he went down. Needless to say he didn't draw a penalty in spite of his efforts or through the deafening roar from the partisan Red Wing fans! Oh, how I wish we had a diving penalty back then!

The cheat-to-win attitude has evolved to include an ever expanding list of embellishers. It really detracts from the integrity of the game and has become a negative component that needs to be eradicated. There are two ways to do that; the Refs must continue to enforce embellishment with a firm standard and assess a standalone penalty whenever the opportunity is presented. Second to that, offenders' names need to be published when the Hockey Operation Department flags them under Rule 64.3 (Fines and Suspensions) whether a penalty was called on the ice or not.

For those unaware of Rule 64.3: "Regardless if a minor penalty for diving/embellishment is called, Hockey Operations will review game videos and assess fines to players who dive or embellish a fall or a reaction, or who feign injury. The first such incident during the season will result in a warning letter being sent to the player. The second such incident will result in a one thousand dollar ($1,000) fine. For a third such incident in the season, the player shall be suspended for one game, pending a telephone conversation with the Director of Hockey Operations. For subsequent violations in the same season, the player's suspension shall double (i.e. first suspension - one game, second suspension - two games, third suspension - four games, etc.)"  

This rule certainly has some 'teeth' but we never know if or when it is being enforced.

I watched each of the infractions that David and Fraser offered as examples in their question.

- Zach Bogosian reached with a free-hand to restrain Lars Eller and the Montreal forward folded backward to the ice like a $3.00 suitcase.
- David Schlemko put a hook on Tuomo Ruttu's hands that resulted in a jump in the air with both skates. If the pond wasn't frozen there would have been a big splash upon Ruttu's entry!

- Alex Ovechkin really clocked Alexander Semin in the chin with high hands. The Canes would have a legitimate beef with this embellishment as Semin was trying to duck at the moment of impact and not draw a penalty. From the Ref's angle he thought otherwise.

The bottom line is that the Referees have their instructions and their radar is honed in on embellishment. I'm good with that and hope that before too long players will fight to stay on their feet for fear of nullifying a power play opportunity.

New rule suggestion: Make the embellishment a double minor penalty. Maybe then all players' uniforms would be wetter on the inside from perspiration.

After all, it's supposed to be a man's game in the NHL.

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser

Kerry Fraser is an analyst for the NHL on TSN and That's Hockey 2Nite on TSN2. As one of the league's most recognizable senior referees, he's worked 1,904 NHL regular season games and 261 playoff games during his 37-year career.

Got a question on rule clarification, comments on rule enforcements or some memorable NHL stories? Kerry wants to answer your emails at!

You can also follow Kerry Fraser on Twitter at @kfraserthecall!

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