New York Islanders

Colin Campbell: Asleep at the switch

NEW YORK - JULY 22:  Colin Campbell, Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations for the National Hockey League, addresses the media during a press conference explaning the NHL rule changes at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers on July 22, 2005 in New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images for NHLI)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Michael GasparinoCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2010

You know the guy at work who does nothing but convert oxygen to carbon dioxide? We all know a guy like this. The guy who has somehow been able to hold down a job despite little to no evidence of productivity? The guy who displays no aptitude or discernible skills yet continues to collect a paycheck?

Colin Campbell is that guy.

The NHL's chief disciplinarian brings cluelessness to new levels with each ruling he makes, the latest being the two-game suspension levied against Alex Ovechkin. Campbell somehow felt that Ovie deserved a two-game suspension for his hit against Brian Campbell (no relation, I think...maybe he's a distant cousin and that explains it).

Ovechkin was rightly given a five-minute major and a game misconduct, but anyone who saw the play other than dyed-in-the-wool Blackhawks fans knows that a suspension was not warranted.

But Campbell went ahead and gave out a two-game suspension. Where was the suspension for Matt Cooke against Marc Savard? Or for Steve Downie after he took out Sidney Crosby? And yet, Maxim Lapierre did get suspended four games for slamming Scott Nichol into the boards recently.

No rhyme, no reason. You wonder if that phrase is etched into a plaque on Campbell's wall.

Campbell makes Homer Simpson look like Frank Grimes. He makes G.W. Bush look like Abe Lincoln. He makes Larry Storch of "F-Troop" look like Marlon Brando.

We understand how someone like Campbell gets a league job like the one he has. What we don't understand, given his record, is how he actually keeps it.

Are there compromising photos involved? Someone's secret diary? A grainy video? Something's keeping the guy employed.

Scott Burnside has a terrific take on it at ESPN.com, comparing Campbell to the lead character in the film "Memento." Nice.

Burnside goes on to say that the league has no credibility when it comes to discipline.

"This will be so until the NHL has the gumption to make meaningful change to the way it does business, until it tears down the Star Chamber and replaces Colin Campbell with a more effective, more transparent form of justice, one the players and coaches and fans can understand and accept."

Until that happens, expect more of the same. When there's an on-ice incident that requires thoughtful consideration and consistency, Campbell will instead spin his wheel of fortune, or shake his magic 8-ball, or whatever he uses to mete out punishments (or free passes).

That's the kind of guy he is.

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