The Wheel of Justice may have had its final spin. Colin Campbell is going to step down as the head for NHL discipline. We thought about putting together a respectable piece that detailed Colin Campbell’s long career of service with the National Hockey League… but then we remembered who we were writing about.

We’re not going to miss Colin Campbell, but that won’t stop us from recalling everything he missed.

You can’t really talk about failures in NHL discipline without discussing this hit. Yes, technically there may have been nothing in the NHL rulebook at the time that would have meant a Cooke suspension, but it’s perhaps the best example of Colin Campbell doing nothing about on-ice violence.

At the time Campbell said “I can’t suspend Matt Cooke for being a repeat offender, I have to find a reason” and “We feel we have to be consistent and do what we feel is right and hopefully we’ve gone to a place in our meetings today that we can eradicate plays like this in the future.”

The very suggestion of Colin Campbell feeling like he has to be consistent is laughable.

However, before we venture into inconsistency, we have to show another play where Campbell was criticised for a lack of action:

Chara received no suspension. Colin Campbell wasn’t involved in the hearing because it involved the Boston Bruins, the team his son Gregory plays for. That didn’t stop people from criticising Campbell however. Some speculated that Chara wasn’t suspended because he plays with Campbell’s son.

The argument that Campbell is biased in his judgements when dealing with the Bruins came up again recently when Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province questioned whether or not the Canucks can “get a fair shake with the officiating in the final” due to Campbell’s influence.

Of course, Campbell wasn’t always considered “pro-Boston.”

Tyler Dellow of mc79hockey.com famously pointed out that Campbell may have called Marc Savard “that little fake artist” in an email.

Those emails did a lot of damage to Campbell. A survey of 30 active players showed that all 30 “believed Campbell’s integrity has been permanently broken because of the e-mails.”

But enough about Colin Campbell and the Boston Bruins. We’ve got a lot of other misses to discuss.

Was this a dirty play worthy of a suspension? Not according to Colin Campbell. Why? Because it took place behind the net, where apparently anything goes.

Well, not always.

Downie received a one game suspension.

And that highlights that the main issue with Colin Campbell is his complete lack of consistency. Yes, being in charge of handing out discipline is a difficult job, but that really shouldn’t be an excuse.

After Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin didn’t receive a suspension for hitting Vancouver Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell into the boards and causing a concussion, Mitchell wasn’t very happy with Campbell:

“I am disappointed in the league, I’m disappointed in Colin Campbell,” Mitchell said. “I am disappointed he didn’t rule down anything on the play. That’s his job. As we’ve seen, he’s been very inconsistent in how he’s handled himself in those situations. I think a lot of times he hands down suspensions and fines on results.

“I think that’s the wrong thing to do.”

Mitchell said Campbell’s “inconsistency” has led to “chaos” in the league.

For another example of inconsistency, take a look at these three plays involving Alex Ovechkin:

Ovechkin received a two minute penalty for the first knee and a two game suspension for the second. Cooke received a two minute penalty for the third. Are those knee-on-knee hits really any different from one another?

We guess that – along with the head shot debate – will be Brendan Shanahan’s problem now.

Comments (7)

  1. Where’s the Richards hit on Booth? It was pretty much the same as the Cooke hit on Savard, and happened after the Cooke hit. If someone is going to bring up this Cooke hit then the Richards hit needs to be brought up as well. Same hit, both legal at the time, and illegal now.

  2. I thought about that, but I figured the Richards hit and the Cooke hit were pretty much the same thing, so I didn’t need to post both.

  3. @ John

    Check your facts, Richards/Boothe was way before Cooke/Savard. Campbell even used the “well i didnt suspend Richards, so I cant suspend Cooke”

  4. Maybe it’s my hate for the Penguins talking, but I don’t think Ovechkin’s hit on Gonchar is anywhere near as dirty as Cooke’s. Cooke clearly goes for the knee. Ovechkin looks like he was leading with his shoulder.

    Also, Cooke’s hit on Savard is way dirtier than Richards on Booth. Richards hit Booth from the front, Cooke hit Savard from behind.

  5. I hate that every time there is a conversation about hits in the NHL, especially the Matt Cooke hits, they bring up the Richards/Booth play.

    Do me a favor, please. Go to youtube and watch the damn hit. Not only that, but watch the previous 10-15 seconds of play, in full speed. Booth drops the puck about .5 seconds before Richards lights his day up. It was a clean hit with unfortunate results. There was no elbow. It was a clean hit on a bang bang play. If Richards doesn’t make that hit, the Panthers likely score a goal, or at least get a chance.

    When someone comes flying at you with a flagrant attempt to elbow you in the face or the back fo the head, thats one thing. When a big hit happens, and it’s clean, you can’t go crying to have Collin Cam…errr Brendan Shannahan to hand our punishment. It’s the nature of the game, there will always be big hits, some cleaner than others.

    That is all.

  6. Well said Brian.

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