NHL: Times Are a-Changin', Colin Campbell To Step Down as Dean of Discipline

Russ GodekContributor IIIJune 1, 2011

The National Hockey League (NHL) is going through a shake-up this offseason.

Yesterday, it was announced that the Atlanta Thrashers were sold to the True North ownership group and will be relocating to Winnipeg next season. Today, more changes are on the way.

NHL Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell will be stepping down from his role as the head of discipline.

This, for many fans, is welcomed news. This past year was filled with controversy over the way discipline was handed out to players around the league for illegal plays.

Fans felt that certain players were left off the hook, while others had the book thrown at them and were made an example of. Whatever side of the fence you were on in those countless issues, we can all agree that one major component was lacking: consistency.

One night, a player would get five games for a boarding call while the very next night, a player wouldn't even get so much as a fine for an eerily similar play.

Campbell seemed to have missed the mark more often than not and couldn't seem to shake the mentality of old-time, anything-goes hockey.

Brendan Shanahan will take over Campbell's position. Shanahan, a former player whose 22-season career saw long stints with Detroit and New Jersey, was appointed as NHL's Vice President of Hockey and Business Development in 2009.

Shanahan works primarily with equipment changes in conjunction with Mathieu Schneider and the NHLPA. Additionally, he has become the lead man in organizing the league's research and development camps each summer.

With this changing of the guard, there is word that a strong overhaul of the supplemental discipline system is in the works.

This past season, the handling of supplemental discipline has become a joke. It became so bad, that it was made a mockery of by an internet site with the infamous "NHL Wheel of Justice," mocking the randomness and inconsistency of the rulings.

In addition to the supplemental discipline, the referees and the calls may see a change as well. In a few games this season, a hockey game turned from sport to side-show.

Much to blame for these occurrences were the referees and their handling of the game. They are in a position to control the game and prevent instances like that from happening.

So with Shanahan now in this position, we may see changes on and off the ice in terms of rules, calls and supplemental discipline.

Campbell will continue to assist the league in his other roles but will no longer be in a disciplinary position, one which he had held since 1998 and often spoke ill of.

As stated earlier, for most fans this will be welcomed news. It's too early to tell if this change will affect much and whether or not Shanahan will be a suitable replacement—but as this point, any change can't hurt.