Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 10/13/07 at 11:04 AM ET
note 1:22pm, I missed my morning coffee earlier today and forgot to note this was from a tele-conference Campbell did yesterday.
Q. So often in these things we hear about repeat offender things, that each suspension thereafter is harsher. Now we’ve had two against a team in a short period of time. Is there any provision where teams can now be held responsible for their players’ actions as well?
COLIN CAMPBELL: There’s nothing formal that holds a team responsible. I guess if you really look at the issues they have to deal with, their roster situation, they have to deal with paying the player and with other aspects that come with losing two players that they’re paying. But there’s nothing formal that punishes the team for the number of players who are suspended.
Q. In your role, though, are you concerned that in such a short period of time there have been two severe incidents by the same club and have you spoken to either Paul Holmgren or Coach Stephens about it?
COLIN CAMPBELL: No, I’m not concerned. They’ve always had that image that dates back to ‘72 when they were nicknamed “The Broad Street Bullies.” If you look at the time that I’ve been associated with the National Hockey League doing this job, with discipline, I don’t recall—I think I’ve had a couple of players over that whole period with Philadelphia. I think Lindros back in the ‘90s and I think one other player, maybe. But I’ve had very few incidents with Philadelphia. So I have not had a problem with Philadelphia. And Paul Holmgren was easy to deal with and very up front and very honest, as was John Stephens, the coach.
Q. First of all, I know you don’t take the history of a player into consideration when you’re looking at suspending these guys. But both of the guys you suspended now have had problems in the OHL. When are you going to look at the player’s character coming into the NHL as a consideration how you treat them when it comes to acts of this nature?
COLIN CAMPBELL: I think that that’s an issue that we have to deal with the NHL Players’ Association, as far as blending that criteria into our criteria. Right now, as it stands, we’re only allowed to look at their record in our league and how they play and act in our league.
Q. Is this something that you have been talking about with the PA in the last little while, or is it something you’ll bring up with them in the future?
COLIN CAMPBELL: I haven’t thought about that. Maybe it’s something that the players themselves want to talk about. Obviously a lot of those players have played against these two players at some point in time in the OHL, a lot of the players in the NHL, so they know about these players. They talk to the teammates about that, their teammates have played with or against these players. So players are aware of that. I think that question would be better suited to the players.
Q. In the Kesler and Boulerice situation, they had a bit of a jousting match for at least a few minutes prior to the suffering the crosscheck. Is this a point where something that the referees have to take note the escalation and penalize them before we get to the point where someone suffers a serious injury?
COLIN CAMPBELL: We talked to our officials about that. But at some point in time how much of the game do you want the officials to officiate and to blend into how they’re going to control the game?
We can’t tell our officials constantly that you have to anticipate everything and cut it off before it happens. You hope that there’s a point where a player says this is where I draw the line, I’m not going any farther. And when they do go farther, they get a penalty. And they go farther than that, they get a suspension.
But when they take it to the point where Mr. Boulerice did, it’s well above a normal suspension. And it was well above any possible play. It wasn’t a stick that got high. It wasn’t a jousting session that escalated to something that’s suspendable under a two, four, five game situation. It was totally apart from the play during the game. It was just an incident that the puck was going north and he was going south towards Kesler.
Q. I don’t want to give the impression I’m thinking you have to be into the player’s head or the referee has to think about what the player is going to do before they actually do it; but the situation with Kesler and Boulerice, they were going at each other very hard, couple trips and slashes. If the referee notices this going on, can’t they step in and say one more thing and you’re out of the game? I mean that would precipitate them getting a crosscheck to the face, don’t you think?
COLIN CAMPBELL: I think you’re wrong. They can only police it so much. Maybe they did say something to them. Maybe they didn’t listen. We don’t know that. They could have said “Settle down, you guys.” But at some point in time I think you’re putting a little bit too much of the control of the game and blaming the referees when the blame should be in the players’ hands. They have to be in control of their actions.
Q. Absolutely. But we’re looking at a situation now where there have been so many egregious acts over the past couple of years, are players losing the respect for each other that was apparent when you were playing?
COLIN CAMPBELL: Well, again, I’m not so sure they’re losing respect. I think when you’ve got ?? when I played, I hate to say how many teams were in the league, but there was a lot less players in the league. There are 750 players. I’m sure the majority of those players respect each other. When you get a handful of five or six doing these things, I think it’s unfair to paint all the players in the light of a few players’ actions. When a few players get carried away, they lose the right to play. In this case they may lose their right to ever make it in the league.
We had a player for the New York Rangers, a defenseman ?? I’m trying to think of his name—Dale Purinton. He was suspended for 10 games and the message I gave him at the time was that you could affect your career. You had an opportunity to play. You’re a big guy and this may affect your career.
It did. He hasn’t been in the league since. If they want to put their career in jeopardy, that’s their choice. And so I wouldn’t paint 750 players in a certain light when you get three, four guys doing something over the course of two years.
Q. I want to ask you, if Kesler doesn’t get up, as it turns out, thank god he’s okay and he’s probably going to play tonight, but I know we talked about this before, all kinds of different factors when you sit down and think about this. The fact that he wasn’t that seriously hurt, are we looking at something even longer if Kesler is out for a long time?
COLIN CAMPBELL: Certainly, that’s always a factor in these situations. And call it luck, call it what you want, but in Chris Simon’s situation and in the situation with Jesse Boulerice, if they cause injury, we’re into a whole heap of problems, not only the player, but the teams in the league and our sport.
So we have to be careful. If there’s an injury two nights ago, we may be dealing with more than what we’re dealing with today. And I would have to say that Jesse is fairly fortunate that he didn’t cause injury, not only for Kesler himself, but in a lot of ways—I mean we saw what transpired with under the Bertuzzi situation when there is injury, it never stops.
So I would hope players would understand this and see what could happen and what could come of these things and they have to control themselves. In Jesse Boulerice’s situation, he’s a tough player, but you have to know your limitations and you have to know what you can do in your role.
Whether you were trying to send a message of what you were trying to do, you don’t do it that way.
Q. Could you walk us through how you came with the number of 25 games? Does it have anything to do with the suspension that was handed down earlier, seeing that was 20? How did you come to 25?
COLIN CAMPBELL: Well, the case last week was totally different in the sense that that was a body check that went bad. That was an endeavor that hockey operations undertook along with the players, coaches, managers, owners, on something that was occurring on a much too often basis, where a body check went to a point where it was causing injury, went beyond illegal.
And we had to determine what was acceptable, what wasn’t acceptable, when you threw a body check. A shoulder that came in contact with a head and how did you make that contact.
This was totally different. We examined that. We thought about that, obviously, because that’s always on our radar screen. But this was different. This wasn’t a body check that’s legal that kind of went bad or did go bad in a whole lot of ways, this was a stick that was used that was broken as it was used to another player’s face.
It was similar to the Simon incident. You don’t use your stick for swinging at players, crosschecking players. You use your stick for shooting and passing. And sometimes there’s accidental stick contact. Sometimes there’s careless stick contact, when players are jostling and things are getting heated around the net, when the goalie is pulled, and we’ve had suspensions in the past of two, four, five games, when players get careless and carried away.
This was a determined effort of a player who went in the opposite direction of the play was going. He sought out a player and without the player seeing him, he struck that player in the facial area with a crosscheck, breaking his stick.
And no different than Chris Simon using his stick to swing it in a fashion at another player’s head. In both cases we were fortunate, and they were fortunate, and obviously the player who received the stick were fortunate, there was no injury.
Q. How do you balance intent and the end result when you’re handing out discipline? Because you obviously sent a good message with what you handed out today. But you also mentioned this could have been harsher had there been more damage to Kesler.
COLIN CAMPBELL: I don’t know if there’s any balancing here. I think we look at what happened. And we’ve got a lot of good people to work with me that have been around this game a long time. And we look at all the factors surrounding each and every play. And we try to determine what’s right and what’s wrong and how wrong did it go.
And in this play, we’ve always said before—and it’s no different out on the street and any other action that we all are involved in—we’ve got to be accountable for the actions we take. And if bad things happen, that’s your risk. And in this case he decided to do something that resulted in a bad action but not a terribly bad result. And he was lucky.
If there was a worse result, maybe there would be more than me looking into it today, and that wouldn’t be good for any of us.
Q. Is the Jordin Tootoo incident under review?
COLIN CAMPBELL: No, it’s not.
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