Let me start off by saying that when I owned my business in Woodstock Ontario, it was a stop that Colin Campbell made every time on his way home. For years, I thought of him as an honest, knowledgeable and a shoot from the hip kind of guy who’s earned my respect over the years.
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t envy his position as chief disciplinarian of the NHL. I also don’t wish to get into the email controversy or debate. That is not what this is about. What it is about though is the way the NHL handles supplementary discipline compared to the OHL.
Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke weighed in on the Colin Campbell email controversy and he says he is happy with Campbell’s work. Story. Again, this is not about the emails, but there are some questions I raise about some of the comments Burke made.
There is no doubt in my mind that had the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard had happened in the OHL, that David Branch would have sat Cooke out so long that he’d require surgery to remove the splinters from his rear end from sitting so long.
So what is the difference between the way Branch deals with supplementary discipline in the OHL than how Campbell handles it in the NHL? Well, let’s look at some of the reasons that Burke claims to come into play when deciding a suspension.
First , he says “what was the score of the game at the time of the incident?” Are we supposed to believe that hit requires a greater suspension if the score is 5-0 as opposed to 3-2? I don’t understand the logic behind it myself. A hit to the head is a hit to the head. No matter what the score is, if a player is carried off the ice on a stretcher, what affect could the score of the game possibly have on the suspension?
If you look at the history of the suspensions that Branch has handed out, you will find some sort of resemblance with respect to the length of them, and when you look at the scores of those games, you will find them unfamiliar.
He makes mention of a speeding ticket. Well, what’s the difference between speeding to keep up with traffic or speeding to hurry home and catch the Bruins on TV? Both, from what I know, are fined equally the same. I just don’t understand the reference.
His second comment was “Was there a history between the two players?” Again, I wonder how this plays into effect. If player A and player B had a fight in the first period, or every game they’ve ever met for that matter and player A hits player B in the head with an elbow, and player Y does the same to player Z who are meeting for the very first time, does one warrant a greater suspension than the other?
While I am sure an argument could be made in favour of Burke’s comments, the fact is that fans can at least have an open debate about it. What I question is that if Burke’s comments are a reflection of league policy, and in fairness to Burke, Campbell himself has said that the reasons play a part, then the real debate should be between the powers at be in the NHL and not the fans.
Has David Branches heavy hand in dishing out suspensions eliminated dirty hits in the OHL? The answer is no. But i would suggest we see less of it in the OHL because a player knows that he could be looking at a season long suspension.
And I am sure someone will make the argument that the NHL is different because the players are paid large amounts of money to play the game. That’s the point though, it’s still a game and because a player is earning a couple of million dollars to play that game, it doesn’t give him the right to potential end another player’s career.
It’s not a knock on Campbell. It’s the position the NHL is in. As I said I don’t envy him. Personally, I hope for the day that David Branch can be the chief disciplinarian for the NHL. Better yet, in my opinion, Commissioner.
I know this has nothing to do with the draft, but just wanted to throw my opinion out there since i get asked a lot.