Does NHL's Colin Campbell Just Spin a Wheel When Handing out Suspensions?

Ryan PickardCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 22:  Colin Campbell (L), Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations, and Commissioner Gary Bettman of the National Hockey League address the media regarding NHL rules changes and the new CBA agreement 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

Colin Campbell has been the head disciplinarian of the NHL for the past 11 years and he has handed down his fair share of suspensions over the years.

The question, though, is how does he really decide how to hand out these suspensions?

To date, there have been 13 players suspended for a total of 31 this year. The most known was Alexander Ovechkin's two-game suspension for a knee on knee hit on Tim Gleason of the Carolina Hurricanes.

With the suspensions though, there have been a lot of calls asking how Campbell comes to his decisions. It seems as though he just decides how many games he wants to suspend somebody without using any sort of system.

For example, this year we have already seen two slew footing incidents. The first was done by Evgeny Artyukhin of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was suspended for three games. Then just a day later Alex Ovechkin was fined $2,500 for a slew foot incident but was not suspended.

Why would one guy be suspended and the other just receive a fine? Was Campbell saying that he won't suspend the star players in the game today? In his ruling Campbell stated that it was because Ovechkin was not a repeat offender while Artyukhin had already been involved in two prior incidents.

This is believable. But still, for the Ovechkin incident to come just one day after the other, you would think he would hand out the same kind of punishment for both plays.

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The most recent incident was Danny Carcillo, who was suspended for four games after getting into a fight with Matt Bradley. As the two dropped the gloves, Carcillo got them off first and knocked Bradley down in one punch. Carcillo was assessed a game misconduct and was subsequently suspended for four games.

This was similar to the Aaron Ward and Scott Walker altercation in last year's playoffs. At the end of a play the two got in a shoving match and Walker grabbed Ward and threw what appeared to be a sucker punch right to Ward's face, breaking his orbital bone. Walker wasn't suspended. Instead he was fined just $2,500.

There really didn't seem to be much of a difference between the two plays considering Carcillo got suspended even though he was actually involved in a fight and had the right to throw punches while Walker's seemed more like a sucker punch.

So how does Colin Campbell really come to his final decision on whether or not he will suspend a player or just fine him?

Campbell says he looks at how much intent there was and whether or not the player is a repeat offender.

Well, what happens if you have a guy that has never committed a dirty act in his career and all of a sudden decides he's going to go nuts and hurts a player badly? Will he not get suspended because he is a first-time offender?

I don't know if the league will change the way they hand out suspensions but they should really look into it since there seems to be a serious flaw in the way they are handed out.