SUN Hockey Pool

Does the NHL need a discipline committee?

Colin Campbell. (Craig Robertson/QMI AGENCY)

Colin Campbell. (Craig Robertson/QMI AGENCY)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

Well, the NHL can be thankful for one thing, even though it cannot take credit.

Timing is everything and it will be spared having executive vice-president and director of hockey operations Colin Campbell pass judgment on Boston Bruin Marc Savard, should Savard be involved in an incident requiring supplemental discipline.

Savard — allegedly branded a “little faker” by Campbell in the well-circulated e-mails from the Dean Warren wrongful dismissal suit broken down by blogger Tyler Dellow — now plays for the same team as Campbell’s son, Gregory. That means Colin Campbell would have to recuse himself from any judgments involving his son’s team.

It’s a moot point right now because Savard is currently on the long road back from a concussion. But you have to figure it would become slightly uncomfortable for the league if that were not the case and Campbell would be required to rule on Savard — given what he supposedly thinks of him — should Savard either be the aggressor or the victim in an incident.

It would be difficult for there to be a sense of impartiality at this point in any Campbell dealings with Savard, even though just about everybody in the game vouches for Campbell’s integrity (OK, maybe not the referees) and he has the full-on backing of his superiors.

To think Campbell, or any hockey lifer who would occupy his office, doesn’t bring a career worth of biases, rivalries or dislikes regarding former rivals or colleagues with whom he worked or competed against would be naive.

In the judgment of his superiors, Campbell has been able to park whatever personal opinions he has when passing judgment and, for now, that is apparently what counts.

But, as one agent stated Tuesday, “justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.”

The discussion now should move forward and the next stopping point, in the aftermath of the Campbell revelations, is whether the integrity of the position as it now exists can ever be beyond reproach regardless of the name on the door.

If you assume the only candidates capable of deciphering the NHL “code,” such as it is, are people who have played, coached or been administrators in the game, then they are each going to bring their own skeletons with them to the job.

Do you think there is any “hockey guy,” who might succeed Campbell who hasn’t had his own run-ins, rivalries, disagreements and, literally, fights with people upon whom he would be asked to pass judgment?

If you need an intimate knowledge of the game to do the job, to understand the subtleties of a James Wisniewski gesture or what is or isn’t a Sean Avery sucker punch, then, it stands to reason, the only way to get that knowledge is to have been on the NHL’s inside.

No matter who’s in the chair, there is going to be somebody at some point who is going to feel that a judgment was tainted by personal feelings left over from some previous incident, feelings real or perceived.

The qualifications of the job, by its nature, are to form the kinds of opinions Campbell shared in his e-mails, so, in short, can one man be left in charge and there be the appearance of impartiality?

Does impartiality matter? Hey, everybody wants a fair shake and to be treated the same as the next guy on the carpet, right? Never mind, for your customers’ sake, everything should look above board.

If the appearance of impartiality is to be achieved, would it not be better to have a committee handle something as controversial as supplemental discipline so the bias — either real or perceived — on the part of one member of the committee would be mitigated by the presence of one or two other informed opinions?

Just a thought.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos