November 15, 2010

The Goal Savard Scored after Gregory Campbell Got Called for High-Sticking on Feb. 24, 2007

The video of the infraction in question is unfortunately hidden away in the infinite annals of the internet, but here is the goal Boston Bruin Marc Savard scored to apparently add insult to injury to a high-sticking call made against then-Florida Panther Gregory Campbell on February 24, 2007. If you pay attention to the background noise, you can hear the penalty being announced. While it's not much, it does serve as proof (along with actual game reports still easily accessible on the NHL's website) that NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell's son got a high-sticking penalty during the game in question, which has led to quite the internet buzz on Monday calling for his resignation or outright dismissal.

While it's still sinking in that Campbell could be so petty as to hold a grudge against a player he once coached 13 years ago with the New York Rangers (Savard), all the alleged evidence seems to be pointing that way. Add in the fact that Pittsburgh Penguin Matt Cooke got away suspensionless last March for his hit on that same player, and it doesn't look any better, especially seeing as the league could have handed out additional discipline for intent to injure if they deemed it necessary.

Regarding supplementary discipline, according to league rules (rule 28.1), the NHL may "investigate any incident that occurs... and may assess additional fines and/or suspensions for any offense committed during the course of a game... whether or not such offense has been penalized by the Referee."

The Match penalty Cooke should have gotten for "deliberately [attempting] to injure... an opponent in any manner" (rule 21.1) kind of makes the case against Campbell that much worse. At the time of the incident, the lack of a suspension was chalked up to incompetence on the part of the league, but in light of the discovery by blogger Tyler Dellow from mc79hockey (the site may be too overloaded right now) it has to be said that maybe foul play was afoot. Take a look at the video from last season during which Campbell explains his motivation for not handing down a ban of any length to Cooke and his bald-headed, gremlin-like exterior looks that much more villainous.

What's sad about this whole mess is that the league finds itself in a position where it must hope that people look back to the end of last season and pray the general consensus is that Campbell was just inept in failing to hand out a suspension to Savard, because the alternative is soooo much worse for everyone involved.

Campbell should not be fired for this incident, because there really is not enough evidence in the supposed emails he sent Stephen Walkom (who, interestingly enough, was behind the huge Colton Orr non-call last month against the Toronto Maple Leafs) to crucify him. He can successfully deny that his feelings towards his son and towards Savard did not come into play when he was making his decision on the Cooke hit eight months ago, because there are no emails chronicling his thought process then.

However, truth be told, Campbell likely should have been fired countless times beforehand for the clear double standards and inconsistent rulings he has allowed to live on during his tenure as a league executive. As much as I hate to admit it, Campbell may very well be bulletproof, and all the Bruins can do right now is be thankful his son plays on their team.

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