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Colin Campbell: Enough with the Double Standard on "Dirty Hits"

WASHINGTON - MAY 09:  Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals is separated from Matt Cooke #24 of the Pittsburgh Penguins by Linesmen Derek Amell #75 during Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinal Round of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 9, 2009 at the Verizon Center in Washington,  DC.  (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)
Len Redkoles/Getty Images
Andy BenschSenior Writer IMarch 17, 2010

The NHL department for player discipline is by far the worst of the four major North American sports.

Colin Campbell, the man in charge of deciding the "appropriate" punishment for transgressions in the NHL, is by far the most idiotic and unintelligent head of discipline.

Now, there have been numerous instances to show why Campbell is such a lunatic when it comes to handing out suspensions, but no example is as crystal clear as a couple of recent hits this season.

How Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke was not suspended for this hit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Z1vJrIAg-0 , yet Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin was suspended for this hit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MozYKCapvWs, is absolute nonsense.

To be fair, both hits are of different variety and both hits caused what will most likely be season-ending injuries for both players.

However, one thing is clear. Cooke's hit on Boston's star center Marc Savard was much more deserving of a suspension than Ovechkin's hit on Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell.

Why? Because of intent to injure.

Ovechkin may run around on the ice and look to dish out punishing hits more often than most players, (including those awful knee on knee collisions) but none of those hits are attempts to injure.

Both players can blow out their knees on those knee on knee type hits and therefore it is usually not an intent to injure. Knee on knee plays happen too fast and are sometimes unavoidable.

And as for the hit on Campbell, how was Ovechkin supposed to know that "Soupy" was going to be off-balance? The Chicago defenseman clearly looks over his shoulder on the video and can sense Ovechkin coming at full speed.

Perhaps Campbell may have started to lose an edge or hit a rut in the ice, but clearly he should have been much better braced for contact.

Was it a questionable hit? Yes, but it wasn't a clear-cut suspension worthy type of hit. It was a type of play that could really go either way, so a two game suspension for the play wasn't a terrible decision.

But if that play is given a two game suspension, how in the world does a cheap shot elbow to the head not get a suspension at all?

Did ESPN analyst Barry Melrose even watch the replays? The other day on ESPN's Pardon the Interruption , with Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon, Melrose stated that Cooke's cheap shot was within the rules.

Granted, he did say "shoulder to head hits" are legal (which they are). But Cooke clearly led with his elbow. Earth to Melrose, elbowing is a penalty in our sport.

And an elbow that vicious (obviously an intent to injure and not a play on the puck) should at least be a double-digit suspension. Ten games minimum.

That is the hit that needs to be taken out of hockey. Ovechkin's hit on Campbell, while a tad reckless and dangerous is a hockey hit. This is the most violent sport in the world and injuries are unavoidable.

If Ovechkin had got any more than a two game suspension, it would have negatively effected the league rather than helped protect the players. Nobody wants to see players afraid to play the body and slow their game down.

The way Ovechkin plays the game is great for the sport (OK, he could cut down on the knee on knee plays) but still, his enthusiasm, work ethic, physicality, and goal scoring is growing the game once again.

Hits like his on Campbell shouldn't be treated at the same level or worse than elbows to the head.

How Ovechkin get's suspended and Cooke doesn't is an insult to, not only hockey fans, but people in general.

I mean it's basically like Ovechkin was sentenced to six months in prison for driving under the influence but Cooke wasn't even charged at all despite committing armed robbery.

What type of message is that sending?

The NHL is basically telling its players that head-hunting with the elbow is fine but leading with the shoulder will warrant a suspension.

C'mon commissioner Bettman, get another head of discipline already. Colin Campbell is a joke.

 

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