Colin Campbell, currently serves as the Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL. He is responsible for assessing suspensions to players. Most recently, the spotlight has been shed on head shots and how Campbell deals with them.
Since the rule changes following the lockout, the speed of the game in the NHL has increased significantly.Everybody who knows anything about physics knows that when something increases its speed, there is a bigger ending momentum and ultimately impact.
Rule 48 was implemented in that late stages of last season to try and curtail the head shots that were taking place. 48.1, titled, "Illegal Check to the Head" sets out that "A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted."
The topic of head shots in the NHL has come to the forefront especially after more and more NHL players have sustained concussions as a result from the head shots. Some of these players include Sidney Crosby (twice), David Booth, Marc Savard, and most recently Max Pacioretty.
One man who was involved in the fore-mentioned rule changes was current Senior V.P. and Director of Hockey Operations of the NHL, Colin Campbell. Campbell is currently the main disciplinarian in the NHL but has come under fire recently. This is because Campbell is directly responsible for suspending (or in some cases, not suspending) the player who delivers the head shot.
The following videos will show why Campbell no longer deserves his lengthy title in the NHL.
This was really the hit that started the head shot discussion. Florida Panthers forward David Booth comes into the offensive zone and Mike Richards of the Flyers gives him a "how do you do" and knocks him out with a shoulder to the head.
Although video is self explanatory and a gutless hit, Richards received only a 5 minute major and a game misconduct. He was not suspended by the League for the hit.
Although Bill Daly was the one who announced the decision, we can be sure that Colin Campbell was somewhere in the background of this blown non-suspension.
My recommendation: anywhere in the 5-8 game range. There is just no reason for this hit. Richards could have gone low and made a "Scott Stevens" hit. It still would have been a big hit because Booth would not have seen him coming, but when the head gets hit, there is always possibility of further injury.
This video really does not need any explanation. This is because Matt Cooke has no explanation for this unnecessary, vicious hit.
Marc Savard was cruising over the blue line and let a shot go, before doing a 180 degree mid-air flip and landing on his back, courtesy of a Matt Cooke elbow to the head.
The announcer for Pittsburgh calls it the "unfortunate side of the game", but come on! Is he serious? Watch Cooke alter his path to come make contact with Savard. Cooke could have laid into Savard with a big hip check or something of the same nature. An elbow to the head?
At any rate, this article is supposed to discuss the punishment and the one doing the punishing.
But, there was no punishment.
Not only was there no punishment on the ice, but there was no supplemental discipline coming from guess who? That's right, Colin Campbell.
My suggested suspension, some where in the 12-15 game range. Cooke had no reason to make this hit. Absolutely none. He altered his path to come make a late hit on Savard's head. he followed through with the elbow to the head. His dirty reputation proceeds him wherever he goes and this is just another example.
Alexander Ovechkin. Sidney Crosby. Playing in the same game on New Year's Day. Outside. Need I say more? This game was supposed to be a battle of two titans; of two teams who love to hate each other.
It was supposed to be about two great rival teams scoring highlight goals, making unbelievable saves, and throwing big open ice hits.
But clean hits. Not cheap shots.
Enter David Steckel.
After a Capitals counter-attack left Sidney Crosby skating the wrong direction, David Steckel thought he would take a liberty on the "face of the game" and gave him a little shoulder to the head.
Now as a Detroit Red Wings fan, I can attest that you either love Sidney Crosby, or you can't stand "the kid". But taking out one of the top, if not the top, player in hockey with a dirty drive by shoulder to the head is not the way to take out your feelings towards him.
Crosby insists that he did not sustain a head shot that game and that it game during the hit by Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning. (shown below)
While we may debate which hit actually gave Crosby the concussion that he currently has now is debatable, but Crosby has not played since that hit by Victor Hedman on January 5th of this year.
That is a span of 27 games.
Let me run some stats by all of you reading this. Crosby had 66 points in 41 games. 41 games is half of the season, meaning he was on track for 132 points. The last time someone scored over 130 points was Mario Lemieux in 1995-96 when he scored 161 points.
So hold on a minute here. Mr. Campbell, are you reading this? Probably not, but the fact of the matter is... if you knock "the face of the game" out of action. You deny Crosby the opportunity to put up 132 points and by doing so, you kill the interest generated in hockey since the lockout.
How are players supposed to go out and play when they are constantly thinking about some player on the other team coming along and taking their head off with a head shot.
Crosby was sent on vacation, but couldn't even go outside because the light hurt set off pain in his head.
My recommendation for this hit would be in the 5-10 game range. Sure it wasn't the biggest head shot on the fact of the planet. But the hit (along with Hedman's) was enough to put someone out of action for 27 games and counting.
Head shot, no head shot, call it what you want. Max Pacioretty got his head taken off courtesy of Zdeno Chara hitting into the boards and having his head bounce off of the stanchion that separates the two benches in a rink.
While the stanchion is padded, it doesn't really make a difference when you're skating upwards of twenty miles an hour after a loose puck, and a 6' 9" 260 pound man hitting you into the stanchion.
This hit has stirred controversy around the league because once again, the League's outstanding disciplinarian did absolutely nothing in regards to supplemental discipline.
Chara, who was assessed a five minute major for interference and a game misconduct, was not given any further suspension by the League.
While the League ruled that they "could not find any evidence" that the hit was deliberate, or that there was a deliberate attempt to injure. One has to wonder how this could be the case.
Zdeno Chara has played over 900 games in the NHL and quite a few more in the minors and such. He knows what the geometry of the rink looks like. He knows that there is a stanchion in between the benches. How could this not be "deliberate".
Alright Mr. Chara. We'll play your game. Suppose Chara didn't intend to cause injury to Pacioretty despite the fact that the two have a history.
Why make the hit?
Upon further observation of the replay, one can clearly count a full two seconds between the time Pacioretty last touches the puck, and the time Pacioretty smacks his face off the stanchion.
There's no reason for that to happen. It might not be a deliberate attempt to injure, but Chara's hit was reckless and careless. Chara has sixty-five pounds and seven inches on Pacioretty and that should force Chara to play more diligently.
Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a "non-displaced fourth cervical vertebrae" fracture. So a severe concussion and a broken neck and there's no discipline to follow this one either.
My recommendation is that Chara should have been suspended anywhere from 3-5 games. Although one cannot prove intent on this hit, I would argue that one should not have to endure what Pacioretty suffered and not see justice served
Colin Campbell's job may be in jeopardy if he cannot come up with more rational outcomes following head shots and other serious injuries to players.
Head shots and freak injuries aside, this article ultimately comes back to Mr. Colin Campbell.
Mr. Campbell is in a position of authority. The fact that none of the fore-mentioned hits resulted in any supplemental discipline whatsoever is unacceptable and irrational.
To be in this position of authority, one must use that authority vested in them at the right times.
Mr. Campbell has not used his authority when he has needed to and often uses it in inexplicable ways to deal out suspensions for hits that do not fit the bill of the hit (see below).
Colin Campbell has also been involved incidents unrelated to suspensions. In 2010, his dismissal of referee, Dean Warren, and subsequent ensuing wrongful termination lawsuit have led to the unearthing of Campbell's emails that have called out numerous players and others in the league.
Coincidentally, one of these players was head shot victim, Marc Savard. Savard was referred to as "a little fake artist" in Campbell's emails after an incident relating to the firing of referee Dean Warren. (for more see below).
In short, Colin Campbell is a huge disgrace to the NHL.
The NHL has too many other more important issues (like the sales of the Phoenix Coyotes and possibly others in the future) to have to worry about one of their management disgracing the League.
Although he has served has Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations for over ten years, one must think his time to fix the situations that he has created is running short.
So, Mr. Campbell, if you're out there and reading this, I hope you're feeling a little bit more uncomfortable than you were when you woke up this morning.
The message to Colin Campbell is strong and it is growing in strength: Shape up, or ship out.