Monday, June 1, 2009

Colin Campbell Does What Colin Campbell Wants

We have ourselves here another disciplinary conundrum. By now, everyone saw the hullabaloo last night in the last minute. It started with another shot that landed in Osgood's chest, and ended with some game misconducts. We'll recap all that after the video. But first I want to qualify this; the following will be just my opinion on this matter, I can't speak for Denson, I don't know where he is, what he's doing, whether or not he's in a ditch face down in an Applebee's parking lot, or what, but what I do know, is he's apt to be pretty pissed off.

Well, I suppose we should go through this. Malkin fires a pretty innocent snapshot into Osgood's chest, maybe it was floating around in his pit and Talbot caught a glimpse of rubber, maybe he didn't. But he most certainly did spear Osgood, what he didn't do was put enough juice behind that poke to send a 176 lb (plus whatever goalie gear weighs nowadays) goalie sprawling across the ice. We can all agree on those points no? You can also say that Brad Stuart and Zetterberg did the right thing by giving Talbot the face wash as well.

Now here's where things get icky. It looks like it's going to be standard face washing scrum city time (but with Satan out on the ice you never know!) until Malkin skates from behind the net and gives Zetterberg a number of gloved punches to the face. Zetterberg returns the favor and, by the looks of it, tries to skate away. Malkin has none of that. With stick still in hand (1:18 in the video), he's throwing at the back of Zetterberg's head, is he not? Eventually they throw down, get their misconducts since their fight straps weren't tied down, and we all move on.

That is, until everyone realizes that Malkin was issued, in my opinion rightfully, an instigator penalty for the fight. And being the diligent hockey fans we are, we all know that instigators in the last 5 minutes of a game or in overtime "shall be" suspended for one game pending review. You know what, ef this, I'm just going to quote this.
Rule 47.22 states: "A player who is deemed to be the instigator of an altercation in the final five minutes or at any time in overtime shall be suspended for one game, pending a review of the incident. The director of hockey operations will review every such incident and may rescind the suspension based on a number of criteria. The criteria for the review shall include, but not be limited to, the score, previous incidents, etc..."

Following that review, Campbell said: "None of the criteria in this rule applied in this situation. Suspensions are applied under this rule when a team attempts to send a message in the last five minutes by having a player instigate a fight. A suspension could also be applied when a player seeks retribution for a prior incident. Neither was the case here and therefore the one game suspension is rescinded."
Common sense here dictates that of course Malkin would not be suspended in this situation, because it's the Cup finals, it just wouldn't happen. But here again we are with Colin Campbell making his presence known, not unlike the Carolina - Bruins series, where Scott Walker's sucker punch was also deemed not suspension worthy, even though he picked up an instigator late in the game.

But how can such ambiguous terminology suffice in such a cut and dry landscape that we like to call the NHL Rulebook. I think Puck Daddy puts it best...
"That Malkin picked him out of the pile is no coincidence, no mistake. It may not specifically be "retribution for a prior incident," but it sure as hell was a message being sent about the frustration Malkin's feeling this series."
Who is Colin Campbell to say what a player's intentions were? How does he know anything of prior incidents, personal vendettas, or bad blood? How can one man dictate what is supposed to laid out clearly and succinctly? If this rule exists for a reason, and if the reason is "to decrease goonish nonsense," at the end of games, why is it not enforced? For the record, there have been 2 applicable instigator's so far, neither were given the supposedly obligatory 1 game ban [well, at least their consistent in that regard.]

Conspiracy theorists will point and howl about preferential treatment and what not, but what's the point? Scott Walker certainly isn't a damn star. If you want to bitch and moan then bitch and moan that Colin Campbell seemingly gets a free pass to do whatever the hell he wants on that bully pulpit of his, while we the viewing public gets another free spin at the Wheel of Discipline. A one game suspension is a one game suspension, there is no grey area. It is what it is. It's my opinion that both Walker and Malkin should be suspended a game, whether or not they deserved it (Malkin no, Walker yes), because it's in the rulebook. Change the rule, get rid of the rule, or enforce the rule, simple as that.
Fact: BanginPanger is not meant as an insult to the one and only Darren Pang, nor do I claim to be him. The views and opinions presented on BanginPanger are of my own, and no other namesake of the site, the NHL, Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, or anyone else.