If you detected sarcasm by the time you finished reading the blog title, you’re on the right track and your sarcasm radar is working just fine.
When our civilization ends (May 22 October 21, 2011, if you need to know), the next great society of beings will sort through our vast history and learn all kinds of things about us; what we ate, who we worshipped, what we listened and danced to, what we watched on tv, who our leaders were, and countless other cultural, political and societal customs. But the one thing they will never, ever figure out no matter how advanced they are is the mystery wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a flour tortilla and deep fried in stupid that is Colin Campbell.
I’m not going to run down the entire list of head scratching, inconsistent, and downright ridiculous rulings he has meted out over the past several years as the NHL’s brainless head of discipline. I’ve done that, and so have many other journalists and bloggers. And to be honest, this would turn in to a 10,000 word blog post that nobody would read. But I want to take this time to point out two cases of blatant, overt hypocrisy and contradiction Colin Campbell has committed over the past two years alone. Yet he not only keeps his job – despite the obvious conflict of interest that comes with having his son play for the Bruins – but we are told by Campbell’s superiors that he is doing an outstanding job.
The first case of blatant contradiction (of many) stems from the now infamous Chara/Pacioretty incident. Consider this quote from Campbell when he suspended Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin in May, 2010:
“And so I think he has to be responsible in how he takes a [Brian] Campbell in, and what kind of position the other player’s in. And he had moved the puck already, Campbell. Look, if there’s no injury on the play, we probably, we don’t do anything, but that’s part of the supplemental discipline process. If you cause a player to be injured, then you have to be responsible for the play that you’re involved in, if there’s any carelessness or recklessness in it.”
Now replace Brian Campbell’s name for Max Pacioretty’s in the above statement, and you’re left wondering why Campbell’s office didn’t suspend Zdeno Chara. You can argue that it was a hockey play, and that it happens all the time. You can show me the clip of Hal Gill introducing Jon Sim in to the stanchion (though the two plays are totally different). But when you look at the above bolded text, Colin Campbell makes it crystal clear that regardless of your intentions, hockey play or not, if you hurt somebody badly enough (and we’re not talking about a run-of-the-mill bump or bruise here), you will be suspended. I wonder if anybody asked Colin Campbell why or how his statements from March 2010 no longer applied in March of 2011? Especially given the seriousness of the injury (please, no Dr. Recchi comments!)
The second incident is an even more perplexing example. Two years ago, New York Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella was suspended for one playoff game for hosing down a fan with the contents of a water bottle. For his part, here’s what Campbell had to say about Coach Torts’ suspension:
“While it is a difficult decision to suspend a coach at this point in a playoff series, it has been made clear to all of our players, coaches and other bench personnel that the National Hockey League cannot — and will not — tolerate any physical contact with fans. We do not take this action lightly.”
“That investigation revealed that Mr. Tortorella squirted a fan with water before Mr. Tortorella was doused with a beverage. While, in these circumstances, it always is easy to allege mitigating circumstances, the fact is we do not tolerate contact with our fans in this manner”
Fast forward to May 25, 2011 and Boston Bruins neanderthal forward Nathan Horton was caught doing the exact same thing – spraying a fan with water from a bottle. Given Campbell’s strongly worded and straight forward statement, you’d think that an automatic suspension would follow suit for Horton, right? After all, he did mention – twice in the same statement – that the league will not tolerate these types of interactions with fans.
Unbelievably, the NHL didn’t address the issue whatsoever.
What. The. Hell.
What changed in the course of two years?
No rational person can sit down and explain to me how Chara and Horton escape supplemental discipline while Ovechkin and Tortorella missed time. Given Campbell’s statement, the arguments just can’t be made. You can tell me that the Chara/Pacioretty incident was a hockey play (please remove the needle from your arm), and you can tell me that Horton was antagonized by the fan he hosed. You can tell me that it’s just water, and nobody got hurt. You can tell me that suspending a player for spraying a fan is unnecessary and an abuse of power (and perhaps I’d agree with that). But the fact is what it is, and the league “cannot” and “will not” tolerate physical interactions with fans.
Except for when it does. Without explanation.
The league will suspend those who cause injury.
Except when it doesn’t. With explanations that contracdict.
It would be really easy to say the Bruins are the unfair benefactors of having the son of the NHL’s head of discipline watching out for them. I’m not a conspiracy theory guy, but when then Islanders defenseman James Wisniewski is suspended for a lewd gesture – to another player, yet Andrew Ference has an equipment malfunction flips the bird to 21,000 people after scoring a goal without a corresponding penalty (hey – there’s a third incident where a Bruin avoid real punishment! Maybe I should get my tin foil hat out!), you can’t help but think that the situation is getting a little out of control.
When the aliens sift through our remains and try to paint a picture of how we lived, Colin Campbell will be a prominent figure. He will be portrayed as an eclectic man, who’s life work is colorful, diverse, and of varying consistencies…just like the brand of soup which bears his name.