Embellishment in hockey is when a player dives or flops toward the ice to draw a penalty. In other words, embellishment is the act of faking an infraction, similar to flopping in soccer on a play. Hockey players tend to flop on a play to give their team an advantage by the refs awarding them a power play.
So what is an embellishment penalty if the refs deem the play a flop by a player? Can players receive a fine for embellishment after the match? Is there any controversy about the rule? How often does embellishment occur in a hockey game?
Here is the complete breakdown of embellishment in hockey and why it occurs during games.
What is the Penalty for Diving in Hockey?
When players receive an embellishment call, their team receives a two-minute minor penalty. A player might fake getting hit with a stick in the face or fall over with extra flair if there is contact with an opposing player. The goal is to sell the act to the ref to give your team a favorable call on the ice. However, your team gets the penalty if the ref sees the play as overacting.
Can Players Receive a Fine for Flopping?
An embellishment call in the NHL typically starts with a warning via the first offense, which means no financial fine. However, a fine will develop if a player continues to receive this call during the season. According to Scouting the Refs, fines start at $2k via the second instance. From there, they go up to $5k from the 5th occurrence and stay that way for each subsequent flop.
In addition to player fines, coaches will also receive a financial fine after the fifth occurrence from a player. The idea behind fining the coach is to add additional discipline to the team for a player’s action and the coach’s coaching.
While embellishing is considered unsportsmanlike, embellishing does not result in an unsportsmanlike conduct call. That penalty is for severe infractions and is often coupled with a game misconduct and sometimes a suspension.
Is There Any Controversy About the Diving Rule in Hockey?
Since flopping (diving) sometimes can go either way on a call, fans will always debate about which way the call goes and if that was correct. For example, The Atheltic wrote an article about Tim Stützle and his perception of diving on plays. While some will argue that he is not flopping, others point to the number of penalties he can create from his style of play. Situations like that tend to generate a bit of controversy over calls and non-calls of flopping during matches.
In addition to The Atheltic, the New York Times wrote about diving during hockey games. Their article shines additional insight into the perception of “theatrical falls” during games to provide the perception to the ref of a penalty.
Finally, James Neal comes to mind with fans about embellishment during a game. There was a debate between the commentators if the call on the ice was correct. Check out the article on The Hockey News to learn more about this moment.
When Does Embellishment Tend to Occur During a Hockey Game?
Diving/embellishment tends to happen during high-sticking moments and tripping plays. For example, if a stick goes near a player’s face, that player might fake having been hit by that stick. For a tripping incident, a player might flop after some contact with another player to get a penalty.
How Often Does Embellishment Occur in a Hockey Game?
Embellishment is not a very common occurrence in hockey. In fact, during the short 2019-2020, there were only two occurrences of this flopping call. Before that period, there would generally be about one or two at most of these calls per season.
Also, officials look at replays of the game to ensure that an embellishment call is correct before any action occurs. For example, one of the diving calls during the 2019-2020 season came from a video review of the instance.
What Happens if a Player Is Hit in the Face With a Hockey Stick?
When a player is struck with a stick in the face, it is an automatic two-minute minor penalty.
If that player is hit in the face and blood is drawn, it is a double minor penalty of four minutes. Players will often scratch the area they got hit at to try and draw blood and get the extra two minutes on the power play.
Conclusion: What Does Embellishment (Diving or Flopping) Mean in Hockey?
In summary, an embellishment is a form of punishment to discipline a hockey player who purposely dives or flops on a play to draw a penalty. When a referee deems a player overacting to generate a favorable call, they will penalize that player and team with a two-minute penalty. With the emergence of instant replay and terrific camera work, fans will know instantly if a player is faking a hit, which helps deter players from attempting these acts during matches in the future.
Outside of a two-minute penalty, players will receive a financial warning about their flop during a game. If a player continues to get this call during the season, they will have to pay a fine for each infraction that occurs during the season. Along with the fine for the player, the coach will receive a financial fine after the fourth occurrence.
Still, players try to gain an advantage during a match. If the call goes in their favor, they can help their team have an edge on the ice via a penalty against their opponent. In addition, they might be able to swing the momentum to their side during a game by getting this call to go in their favor, which can rattle their opponent’s mental focus.