Wednesday, November 28, 2007

An Open Letter to Colin Campbell

Mr. Campbell,

As the Discipline Czar for the NHL, it is your job to mete out punishment for infractions that go above and beyond the severity of what a referee can impose during the game. You are entrusted with the sanctity of this sport and play a big role in determining how hockey is viewed by the general public.

There have been a rash of violent incidents recently in NHL games that have warranted your attention. The Steve Downie incident, the Jesse Boulerice incident, the Patrice Bergeron incident, the Mattias Ohlund incident and now the Scott Hartnell incident. All of these situations required the injured player to be helped from the ice. With all due respect, sir, the punishments you gave to these players for their deeds were ridiculously light.

I will qualify that statement somewhat: The suspension you gave to Steve Downie was severe, but not severe enough. He was docked his salary for 20 games, which I'm certain put a crimp in his finances. However, his crime deserved much more. His intent to injure Dean MacAmmond was clear.

You gave the following rulings on the other aforementioned incidents: Boulerice -25 games for cross checking another player in the face, Randy Jones - 2 games for ramming a defenseless player from behind into the glass, Mattias Ohlund- 4 games for winding up and viciously slashing another player in the leg and Hartnell- 2 games for ramming a player who was on his knees into the boards.


What sort of punishment is 2 games? That is a mere slap on the wrist and sends the message to every player that this sort of heinous behavior will continue to be tolerated. You have punished the result of the crime, not the intent behind it. If any of those injured players had their careers ended due to their offending action, would you have denied any of the criminals the privilege of playing in the league? Apparently not, as evidenced by the fact that players such as Todd Bertuzzi still don a uniform on a nightly basis.

Obviously, hockey is a violent game and injuries are to be expected. I have been a fan of the sport for over 30 years and have seen many players injured as the result of simply playing. However, you have allowed the sport to spiral out of control. Players no longer fear any repercussions from their behavior. It is your fault that unskilled players attempting to make a name for themselves are allowed to perpetrate felonious assault and can get away with it. The pain and suffering of victims like Steve Moore is on your head.

You need to adjust your casual attitude 180 degrees and make an example of the very next offender. If you don't, the sport we love will forever be linked with this type of thuggery. The respect and approval that we crave from the general public will be withheld...and rightfully so. The beauty of a game played by some of the finest athletes in the world will be irrevocably marred because you fiddled while Rome burned.

Change your ways, Mr. Campbell. You have been given a huge responsibility and have failed miserably at carrying it out. I challenge you to prove you are not just an impotent figurehead, but a man worthy of respect.

Otherwise, the next person who should receive a lifetime ban is you.

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