I don’t believe that you can draw a line between Colin Campbell’s emailed references to Bruins center Marc Savard as a “little fake artist” and the lack of a suspension for Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke last spring after Cooke decked Savard and caused a severe concussion.
Otherwise, you’d have to find similar emails about a boatload of other injured players — think David Booth of Florida — over the years who received little justice.
In fact, I believe Campbell is so inept in his role as the NHL disciplinarian that he’s incapable of having an axe to grind or using his position of authority to screw those he doesn’t like. As Jack Edwards of NESN has stated numerous times, the only justice that comes down from Campbell is “dartboard justice.” I doubt he can aim those darts that well.
That I don’t think Campbell lets his opinions affect his decisions, however, doesn’t mean I think he has any right to keep his job after the blogger Tyler Dellow of mc79hockey.com dug into Campbell’s emails to Stephen Walkom and realized the NHL suspension czar was referring to Savard’s fakery. Campbell’s inability to be a professional is now a matter of public record not just because of those emails, but because of his response today to TSN about the firestorm that’s been lit by this affair.
“For me, it’s much ado about nothing,” Campbell told the Canadian sports giant. “Stephen and I would have banter back and forth and Stephen knows I’m a (hockey) dad venting and both of us knowing it wouldn’t go any further than that. Stephen would laugh at me. The game in question (when Gregory Campbell was penalized late in the Atlanta-Florida game) wasn’t on TV and I was asking Stephen to find out for me if it was a soft call. That’s all there ever was to it. The (refs) working that game are still in the league, aren’t they? Stephen handled the officials, just like Terry Gregson does now, and I’ve got a lot of emails to those guys asking about this soft call or that soft call and that’s in a lot of games. I’m not ultimately responsible for the (on-ice) officials, that’s Terry Gregson’s responsibility, but I have to answer to GMs on these calls.”
So Campbell’s chalking this one up to being a “dad’? Give me a break. The biggest key to being unbiased is starting with the appearance of being unbiased. What these emails, and Campbell’s response, do is make everything he has done and will do in his current role smell. All the conspiracy theorists of the past and wronged parties of the future can now claim that Campbell plays favorites and there’s written proof.
Anyone that has watched the Bruins the last few years knows there’s a grain of truth to what Campbell said about Savard. When it comes to chirping at opposing players and referees, and getting in a crosscheck or slash outside the view of the officials, Savard is second to none. There’s a reason why he was once suspended for biting and last spring was again accused of such an offense. Savard’s cry-baby antics are dwarfed by his ice vision and offensive skill set, but they’re still part of his package. If he skated for Montreal or Buffalo, he’d be the guy Edwards and all of Bruins Land would hate.
That doesn’t mean the guy in charge of discipline should be putting his opinions about players, positive or negative, into an email that could someday be made public in a court case. He also shouldn’t be making reference to calls against his son, kidding or otherwise.
If Campbell wants to be a fan, a scout, an analyst or just a “dad,” then he should go ahead and do so. His maintaining his role with the NHL, and the league’s defense of him, just proves that not only is the system inept but it possesses at least an ounce of corruption.