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It All Makes Sense Now

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.”

Continued Campbell:

“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.

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Hugh, I couldn’t agree more. I think everyone was surprised when Chara walked away with no punishment. It was one of the most perplexing decisions Campbell’s office has ever made, given the statements that came out of there.

    If the Bruins win the cup, Colin Campbell’s name should appear somewhere on the Cup. The Bruins have played very well and gotten away with a very poor powerplay, but too much has gone their way to not raise a few eyebrows. I’m glad that people all around the league are taking notice.

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Andrew,
    That would certainly be nice, wouldn’t it? I think that your proposal goes a lot further than the league would ever contemplate taking, but I do agree wholeheartedly that a 3rd independant body should be a part of the disciplinary process. Another way would be to appoint a player from each team to be a representative for disciplinary hearings. Not all would be consulted on every hearing, but say 5 or 6 chosen at random were selected for each hearing and asked for their input. Obviously this needs refinement, but it could be a cog in the wheel. Campbell wields too much power and is too shrouded in doubt, conflict of interest and frankly, incompetence to handle this job anymore. He’s getting better, not worse.

    Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Hey Sens! Thanks for the input. You’re right…Bruins nation laughed off Thornton’s comments in a flash. It’s true that Thornton had an axe to grind with his treatment in Beantown, but that doesn’t make what he says wrong.

    The Bruins deserve to be where they are, and as a Habs fan, that’s tough to admit. They excel at even strength play, which is where the majority of a game is played. They’ve certainly received some help along the way in the form of non-suspensions to key players, and this obvious blight and conflict of interest at the league’s highest level, should be alarming. But they don’t seem to care. Hopefully they change course over the summer and put a stop to this disgusting practise.

  • Hugh

    Just think, a lot of this Campbell crap could have been avoided by the league if they had done something really simple and straightforward – suspend Chara for ONE or TWO games for the hit on MP. There would be a little whining from the Bruin fans but the Bruins themselves (and team management) would thank their lucky stars that it wasn’t TEN games or more. Instead we got the major fallout from the league’s flimsy reasoning that it was ‘just a hockey play’. And even though one or two games is a chintzy punishment, the message sent with ZERO games was very clear and very damaging.

    As far as Campbell’s conflict-of-interest goes, it all started earlier in the season when Julien sent out his goons in the last minute of a game already decided, to start a line brawl with non-fighters on the Habs. Campbell’s goon son slapping away with an elbow pad on Pyatt, goons Thornton and Boychuck jumping Spacek and Hamrlik. An embarrassment to the league just like the Isles/Pens fiasco. And what did the aggressors get as punishment ? NADA. Ridiculous.

  • Andrew

    If the NHL was serious about supplementary discipline then it should be fully transparent. When an incident occurs bring in a 3rd party person or group (preferably someone with good hockey knowledge that has played the game) and have an open hearing. Both sides should be heard and arguments from both the owners, coaches and players on both teams can speak. In the ned a decision will be made and will be open to the public to see.
    As it is now, they talk to the player/owner/coach of the offending team in a secret location and no one knows what is really said or done and then we get a little presser saying yay or nay to suspension. Even if it is fully on the up and up, it looks shady and can be open to misinterpretation.

  • http://aheadbyacentury.wordpress.com SensDew19

    It really is unfair to say Habs fans are bitter about losing out when its the entire league seeing the bias and no Im not just speaking of the fans but also players. If anyone recalls but Joe Thornton was one of the most outspoken players about the Chara incident as he had been suspended for his hit on Perron and specifically mentioned that he felt having Campbell’s son on the team meant something (http://www.nesn.com/2011/03/joe-thornton-quick-to-criticize-zdeno-chara-punishment.html) . If one player is thinking it you gotta think there are at least a few other feel the same way. Yet Thornton was criticized for being “bitter” about getting traded and so on, there’s always a reason for why the person criticizing Colin Campbell is wrong. Im not saying the Bruins are where they are because of biased treatment but they surely have not been held accountable for so many things and no I am not a “bitter Habs fan”.

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Diya,
    Thanks for adding the Campbell quotes after Domi hosed a fan. Just more fuel to the fire which ultimately highlights Campbell as a joke. The sad part is that he’s been in the position for so long, that who knows how hockey could have benefited had he been replaced years ago, as he should have been.

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Jason,
    I’ll certainly try to keep it up as we get closer to the draft and free agency. Hope to see you again around here!

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Thanks Tim,
    I hope to hear from you again soon!

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Thanks for the additional input of material, Robert. I appreciate it! Chara’s crushing of Pacioretty should be the new poster boy for hits done when the puck is nowhere in sight. We agree fully on Campbell as a joke and a coward. The man in a total sham and needs to be removed from the NHL.

    Where are term limits for these buffoons?

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    HabsFan2011,
    I appreciate your viewpoint, however, Campbell’s words are clear. There isn’t room for interpretation in what he said, and that’s been laid bare and plain now. The inconsistency in these calls that bizarrely benefit Boston are becoming one too many for the tastes of many. And if the trend continues over the next 4-7 days, we’ll hear plenty about it.

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Sylvain,
    As has been pointed out in many places, who does it benefit if there are no penalties called in a game? Why, the Bruins of course. Can it be a simple coincidence that no penalties were called all night…resulting in a goal from a player that should have been suspended? Nah! Can’t be! The NHL has too much integrity for that, right?

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    I agree. I think the right call was made on Wiz, but to let Ference’s gesture go…more bias and preferential treatment.
    Thanks for reading!

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Hi Coi,
    You are so right. This whole situation stinks, and the league is proving itself to be a bush league with each passing day that it allows this arrangement to continue.

    Thanks so much for reading! Hope to see you again!

  • Diya

    Habsfan2011 – Since you don’t find the Ovi boarding penalty similar enough, what about the late hit by Ruutu on Erat during round 1 (Ducks vs Preds series)? Ruutu was assessed a minor interference call on the ice and then was suspended a game by the NHL based on the severity of the injury. If a late hit resulting in serious injury in one instance is considered a “hockey play”, then why not in the other?

    Furthermore, the Ruutu suspension does away with the ridiculous argument that if the Chara hit happened anywhere else on the ice then no one would be talking suspension. Apparently, on any given day, Colin Campbell feels differently.

    You can see the hit here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPd8LJvIpgI

    As for the water incident, when Tie Domi sprayed water on a Flyers fan in 2001 he was fined $1000 (the league max on the books at that time), and the league said that in the future there would be stronger penalties beyond mere fines. This is one of the quotes Colin Campbell gave after that incident:

    “All club personnel have been reminded that any physical contact with fans during a game is unacceptable and will result in suspension — and that from now on, even the squirting or throwing of water will be punished,”

    Source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hockey/nhl/news/2001/03/30/domi_fight_ap/

  • http://www.suddendeathhockeyforums.ca Jason

    keep up the good work. :)

  • Tim

    Great article Kyle.

  • http://www.habseyesontheprize.com/ Robert Lefebvre

    HabsFan2011- There might not be a specific rule for hitting players into stanchions, but there are several that apply when dangerously hitting a player no longer in possesion of the puck. The boarding in Ovechkin’s hit is not what is comparable to the Chara / Pacioretty incident, it is that application of Campbell’s wording to the play. I’d love to hear Colin articulate the distinction between the “hockey play” that involves the shoving of a player’s head into a metal turnbuckle and common boarding. I would be interested in hearing him explain why one facet of arena structure is dangerous whereas another is not.

    Ultimately, Campbell is a joke. Proof of his guilt is his total lack of accountability in all of his controversial decision. The guy doesn’t man up and make himself available to media whatsoever. He takes the route that an indecision needs not be explained.

    Basically, the man is a coward. The average fan could pick him apart. He remains the biggest blemish on the game of hockey today. An absolute embarrassment.

    As for your comment HF2011, about everyone hating the Habs, you’ve revealed yourself. You’re not a Habs fan at all. Nice try!

  • HabsFan2011

    I’m a Habs fan who, like most, has been upset by some non-suspensions against the Bruins (Lucic’s cross-check to the head of Moore). But I don’t think the comparisons in this article are fair.
    Tortorella grabbed a stick and started brandishing it at the fan. That’s much worse than what Horton did. Since Tortorella got a 1 game suspension, I don’t think it would be fair to give Horton a 1 game suspension also.
    As for Ovy’s hit — it was boarding. There’s a rule against boarding. There’s no rule against hitting someone into the stanchion. I think Colin Campbell meant that Ovy was being careless and reckless by launching Campbell into the boards since he knows very well that boarding is against the rules.
    For the record, I do think Chara should have been suspended. But taking Colin Campbell’s comments out of context like this isn’t fair and it’s the reason everyone hates Habs fans.

  • Sylvain chard

    So will the officials keep sitting on their whistles should a game 7 happen in the final since the bruins can only score 5 on 5 ? Or will the refs continue playing yoyo with the puck before bouncing a Canuck player in the circle. Or blow an imaginary offside call during the opponents dangerous rush after the bruins take the lead late in game 7? If I have to watch the bruins hoist the cup with their goonie toothless grins I’ll just puke. The most tainted cup ever. Ingrave daddy campbell’s name on that cup!

  • lainlin2

    Ference flipping the birds to the fans -vs- Wizniewski blow job gesture to Avery is another blatant case of bias, IMO.

  • coi

    The conflict of interest goes well beyond Colin Campbell. I like this one:

    The Globe adds that one of the biggest backers to get Bettman the extension was Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, who is the league’s chairman of the board of governors. As chairman, one of Jacobs’s duties is to keep the commissioner and the other key executives under contract.

    http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=357561

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Summer’s going ok, just make sure that the Colin Campbell is awarded the Conn Smythe, ok?

    Semi-jokes aside, your team is playing very well…but it’s typical of a Bruin fan to not be able to intelligently debate the topic at hand, which is to explain the complete hypocrisy of Campbell’s statements, especially since they always benefit the Bruins. With his son on the team, this is a blatant and obvious conflict of interest that everyone should be very concerned about…unless you’re a Bruin fan.

  • motherwell86

    Brunis Fan……….Yes we are bitter you get away with everything.your team should be penalized as much as the other teams……Buit you have COLLIN COLLIN behind you. When is someone going to do something about this. I guess never. My Canadiens will see you next year watch out. Vancouver is going to take you OUT

  • http://www.bostonbruins.com BostonBruinsFan

    I loved this article. As a Bruins fan it does my heart well to know that you Canadiens are still so so so so so bitter. How’s the summer going, eh?

  • http://johnnybertolo.wordpress.com Johnny Bertolo

    Wow, that Campbell guy looks like a real baddass when he puts foot-to-ass…Too bad he doesn’t have any official powers for Bruins games :(

  • http://habswatch.com HabsWatch

    Your mention of the Tortorella suspension, also during the playoffs serves to highlight just how out of line Campbell was not to suspend Horton. Did Campbell remove himself from the process over a decision that could ultimately benefit his son? And how could they decide not to suspend when memos of warning had been issued and precedent had already been set?

    In the words of Bob McKenzie:

    MCKENZIE: TORTORELLA SUSPENSION WAS NOT A SURPRISE

    http://www.tsn.ca/columnists/bob_mckenzie/?id=276490

    “I was not surprised that the National Hockey League suspended John Tortorella because there is a very stringent line the league does not want crossed when it comes to anyone involved in the game interacting in any physical way with fans.

    There was a supplementary discipline memo sent out before this season and it said “even when a fan is verbally abusive, intoxicated or profane, club personnel should either ignore the conduct or where appropriate, seek assistance. This prohibition extends to all forms of physical contact … including the squirting of water.”

    The memo goes on to say that while the squirting of water may have seemed to be of a minor or harmless nature in the past, it could “serve to incite and provoke an unruly fan and may ultimately lead to unforeseen consequences.”

    The Tortorella incident is really a black and white issue for the NHL. While some can say it is just a case of “boys being boys”, or it is the playoffs, or it is the sixth and possibly deciding game, the NHL does not see it that way.”

    It’s fair to wonder if a Tampa Bay player squirted water at a Bruins fan, would there still have been no suspension? Precedent suggests the player would have been and should have been suspended.

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Yeah…like the title says…it all makes sense now!

    He’s just lending his boy a helping hand.

    The sad part is, when you go down the path of allowing fans – even for a moment – a chance to gather tangible evidence that outcomes are being intentionally affected by the league’s actions – that is the moment a league takes a step away from professional sport, and integrity, and toward professional wrestling.

  • http://habswatch.com HabsWatch

    The only consistency is Colin Campbell’s concern for his son. Seriously, what hockey dad wouldn’t abuse his position of authority to see his son, ergo the Boston Bruins win a Stanley Cup?

    Campbell’s inconsistent wheel of justice decides disciplinary action across the NHL, except in Boston where any incident is just a strong hockey play.

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Ugh…I was wondering if someone would bring up the incriminating emails and make me look bad! ; )

    Including those in the story would have required a part two to this post…but it certainly further cements the case that the Bruins have a guardian angel in the form of the head office. Not a bad entity to have in your corner.

  • http://habswatch.com HabsWatch

    Colin Campbell is just doing what any concerned hockey dad would do. If he’s going to use his position to intimidate Referees via email for calls concerning his son who’s a member of the Boston Bruins, he’s certainly going to use his position be make sure none of his son’s teammates get a suspension that could cost his family a Stanley Cup. What kind of hockey dad do you think he is?

  • http://www.cowhideandrubber.com Kyle Roussel

    Peter, term limits is such a no-brainer that it should be an automatic. But Bettman’s cabal is unbreakable, the NHL is his plaything. These guys are an insult to fans everywhere and they need to be replaced. But they will go on their terms when they’ve finished tinkering with the game to their satisfaction.

  • Peterg11742

    NHL Offices won’t investigate this, as Colin Campbell is an “insider”, immune from outside scrutiny. I suggest that positions such as those occupied by Campbell should have term limits.


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