VANCOUVER - There's a new sheriff in town and his name is Brendan Shanahan.
A guy who claims he isn't afraid of the bullets that are about to be fired his way by players, GMs, fans and media alike.
A guy who actually was grateful league disciplinarian Colin Campbell taught him the ropes.
"I think history will show that Colie has been a great innovator for the game of hockey, and we owe him a great deal of thanks," said Shanahan, who was slapped with his share of supplemental discipline by Campbell during his time as a player. "I thank him for the chance to have a positive impact on the game of hockey."
Of course, Shanahan had barely uttered his praise for Campbell during a press conference at the Rogers Arena Wednesday night when the NHL VP looked over at his successor with a kooky grin.
"You won't be thanking me next year at this time," Campbell quipped.
The passing of the torch from Campbell to Shanahan is a clear indication of a revamping of the disciplinary process that critics have increasingly been calling for in recent years.
Shanahan will now be the man in charge of administering fines and suspensions. He'll also be the point man for a new Department of Safety aimed at seeking ways of preventing injuries, including the development of rules to keep players from being hurt.
On the surface, it seems to be a good move. Campbell approached Bettman months ago suggesting it was time for a change. His 13 years of laying down the law took a toll on him.
Because Shanahan isn't far removed from his playing days, he understands the dilemmas the players face. With Rob Blake also in the hockey operations department, it gives the league some new, fresh voices.
At the same time, does Shanahan really understand what he's getting into?
Just look at the way Campbell has been slagged for his decisions. He's even had his integrity questioned in recent years. Second-guessing from the media is fine, sure, but some of the personal attacks Campbell has been forced to absorb are ridiculous.
There is no arguing Campbell should have been scrutinized for some of his emails that became public early in the season. But the suggestions that he might favour the Bruins in this series because his son Gregory plays for Boston were uncalled for, especially since he removed himself from any judgments involving a team his kid plays for long ago.
Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, the man Campbell took over for more than a decade ago, was quick to come to his defence Wednesday.
"He has shown great integrity and ability in the job, which is of critical importance to our game," Burke told QMI Agency's Lance Hornby. "It is a truly thankless job. And he did it magnificently."
Bruins coach Claude Julien echoed Burke's sentiments, saying he respected the job Campbell did long before Gregory joined the team.
Campbell will continue to work in hockey ops but will no longer have to deal with being second guessed every time he lays down the law.
That's Shanahan's job now.
Good luck with that.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly estimates the salary cap ceiling for 2011 will be in excess of $60 million, perhaps reaching as high as $63 million ... Bettman insisted the league will not be pumping money into the Phoenix franchise this season, claiming the city of Glendale will cover the costs.