Had it been in a pool, Sean Avery's dive might have earned perfect marks. But on the ice, it cost him $1,000 US.

Avery, who plays for the Los Angeles Kings, is the first NHL player fined for diving this season, having been caught a second time.

Thirty to 40 players received warning letters for first offences.

A third diving infraction results in a $2,000 US fine; a fourth warrants a one-game suspension.

"One of the impediments to the enforcement of hooking and holding and interference was the diving," Campbell pointed out. "Or the embellishment of those calls to draw a penalty."

"We knew this would happen because players are competitive and they do what they have to do to win the game," explained Colin Campbell, the NHL's disciplinarian. "So this is how the players and the managers have asked us to do handle it."

Avery confirmed Monday that he was fined for taking a second dive during a 4-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Nov. 3.

"How can a guy sitting in an office in New York determine if you dived or not by watching a tape?" Avery asked a reporter for the Los Angeles Times.

Avery suggested that the NHL wanted to keep punishing him for derogatory comments directed at Edmonton Oilers forward Georges Laraque and Coyotes defenceman Denis Gauthier earlier this season.

"No question that this is a way (for the league) to do something to me," Avery told the Times.

"It has nothing to do with diving. How can Colin Campbell or whoever it is sit at a desk and make that call?

Campbell was not amused by Avery's comments, so much so that he fined him an additional $1,000 US late Tuesday.

"Mr. Avery's comments showed a complete lack of respect for all those associated with our game, most importantly, his fellow players," Campbell stated. "Mr. Avery has besmirched the reputation of all NHL players, coaches, general managers and owners who, collectively, have been successful in providing a more entertaining game for our fans."

Avery, 25, has four goals and four assists for eight points in 17 games this season, his third with Los Angeles and fourth in the NHL.

The Pickering, Ont., native played 75 games for the Detroit Red Wings before being acquired by the Kings with Maxim Kuznetsov and two draft picks for Mathieu Schneider on March 11, 2003.

with files from CP Online