James Neal becomes first NHL player fined for diving in league crackdown

James Neal becomes first NHL player fined for diving in league crackdown

James Neal has been fined $2,000 by the NHL for diving/embellishment. And when you see the play that led to the issue, you'll probably know why.

Behold Neal pull a 'cannonball' leap at the 19:39 mark of Nashville's Saturday game against San Jose after Barclay Goodrow gently tapped him on the leg.

The video please...

Despite the fact that Neal has gone to great pains to reconstruct his 'bad boy' image around the NHL, this certainly doesn't help. The three prior suspensions also adds a little tarnish as well. But if there were Vegas-like odds on a player to be named first in the NHL's new diving crackdown Neal would have been a good bet.

Former NHL referee Paul Stewart took Neal to the woodshed a year ago for his takedown of the then Pittsburgh forward on Hockeybuzz.

I have also seen enough of his play to know something else: 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.

The NHL, in its release, said that Neal had been given a warning after a Nov. 13 game against the St. Louis Blues. And it clearly wasn't totally received in Neal's consciousness in time for the San Jose game.

So along with his prior dirty play, James Neal has officially been branded as a diver by the NHL. Give him a big 'D' to wear on his jersey or something.

So now that the ice has been broken, who's next?