Red and Black Hockey
by David Lee on 03/10/10 at 08:44 PM ET
After nearly three days of waiting for the ruling on Matt Cooke’s blindside hit which has apparently ended Marc Savard’s season, NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell made his shocking decision: no suspension for Cooke. Consistency has never been one of Campbell’s calling cards. His bizarre method of justice has never made any sense. Somewhere in his office, he has a disciplinary wheel of fortune, a dartboard of justice, a random number generator. Nobody ever knows what to expect when a player has a meeting with Campbell. Sometimes identical incidents result in widely differing supplemental discipline against the offending player.
Perhaps, then, this decision not to suspend Matt Cooke isn’t surprising at all.
Instead of saying “we made a mistake with the Mike Richards incident, and we want to get it right this time”, Campbell said he needs to be consistent. Never mind that he’s never been consistent at all. The really dangerous thing is that Campbell has played the “consistency” card and he will have to live with that for the remainder of this season. Other players now know that they can deliver blind-side head-high hits and not be held accountable. The safety of the players is being totally disregarded.
Fortunately, most players in the NHL respect each other well enough not to take advantage of Mr Campbell’s asinine precedent. However, I’m really worried that somebody is going to suffer a horrible injury.
If the league isn’t going to discipline Cooke, who is a notorious repeat offender with hits to the head, there’s a chance that somebody might take advantage of that precedent and serve Cooke with a technically legal taste of his own medicine. The Bruins and Pens will meet again later this month, and it could get ugly. The league doesn’t need another premeditated Bertuzzi/Moore incident, but Colin Campbell is practically setting the table for that to happen.
This is a horrible, horrible mistake, and I sincerely hope that nothing bad comes out of this.
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About Red and Black Hockey
David Lee is a restaurant manager with an unused degree in political science. He can be found at Carolina Hurricanes games, Scrabble tournaments and indie-rock shows. Sometimes, all in the same day.