SUN Hockey Pool

Campbell's scoop

STEVE MacFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:37 AM ET

On a lengthy North American tour to discuss aspects of the 'new' NHL with the players, the league's executive vice-president and director of hockey operations hasn't let the jet lag interfere with his perspective.

Colin Campbell knows teams will try to find ways to bend the rules.

He also says the new laws aren't going away, so players better get used to hearing the whistle when they choose to ignore them.

"I expect them to do what they can to win. That's their job, to win," said Campbell yesterday in the Calgary Flames dressing room after speaking with the team.

"It's no different than (when) we all drive down the road and we speed. We know what the speed limit is and we go over it several times. If you get caught, you get caught. If you don't, you don't.

"It's up to us to keep those rules in place, it's up to the referees to call them. It's up to the players to know (what they are).

"They're still going to complain. But that's sports."

The complaints won't only come from the players.

In fact, most players aren't expected to express much dissatisfaction until they take a poor penalty at a critical moment during a game that counts in the standings.

Boston Bruins president Harry Sinden, however, didn't wait long to vent about the pre-season penalty parade.

Sinden went on a recent tirade denouncing the new rules.

And that's OK with Campbell.

"When comments are made like that, it's up to the individual to defend them. I don't care," Campbell said.

"We're supported by the right people. We've got a good competition committee that is married to this. I talked to two of them here today, Trevor Linden and Jarome Iginla.

"They're both tough, aggressive players. It's not about making the game less physical. It's not about making the game less entertaining. It's about making the game better or we wouldn't have done it."

It's not just the competition committee having its collective voice heard during Campbell's tour.

And the topics range from the new enforcement of the rules to supplementary discipline. Campbell has heard all kinds of comments and questions but hasn't felt like a target of attack.

"It's a learning curve but everyone's been good," he said.

"The fans have been very tolerant of it. The players have been good.

"With what we've all gone through, not having hockey for a year, everybody's ready to commit and try to make the game better.

"We all learned how (awful) it is without the game."

Happy with the way things have progressed so far, Campbell admits the real test for referees being consistent will come a few months down the road, when the games begin to shape the playoff picture.

"It's going to be tough," said Campbell, citing a 5-on-4 powerplay becoming a two-man advantage after a second infraction takes place as a prime example of a difficult call.

"It's a tough call to make but if you let it erode, at that point, it just goes all downhill.

"That's when the real test is going to take place."


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