VANCOUVER - Out on the ice at Rogers Arena in the midst of the Boston Bruins' Stanley Cup celebration, Colin Campbell wandered gingerly among the pockets of celebrating players.
Campbell was not wearing a hat, either literally or figuratively.
He was certainly not wearing his hat as the NHL's senior vice-president of hockey operations and the league's outgoing czar of discipline.
This was Colin Campbell, hockey dad, enjoying the ultimate sporting moment with his son, Gregory, a forward with the Bruins.
Because of Gregory's involvement, Colin Campbell had to recuse himself from any discussions of supplemental discipline in this Stanley Cup final -- and there were a few if you were scoring at home (Vancouver's Alex Burrows biting the finger of Boston's Patrice Bergeron, the hit by Vancouver's Aaron Rome that left Boston's Nathan Horton concussed, and the incident between Boston's Johnny Boychuk and Vancouver's Mason Raymond that left Raymond with what amounts to a broken back).
Those calls were left to vice-president of hockey operations Mike Murphy, as always has been the case whenever it involved a game in which Gregory was playing -- either with the Bruins this season or previously with the Florida Panthers.
That didn't stop the charges of conflict of interest, particularly after e-mails between Colin Campbell and Stephen Walkom, then the director of officiating, were revealed last November. Colin asked for clarifications of calls involving his son and at one point called Boston's Marc Savard "that little fake artist."
Now Savard and Gregory are teammates.
It was an uncomfortable time for the NHL and both the Campbells.
Even before the Stanley Cup final, the Vancouver media raised the issue of the Canucks getting a fair shake from the officials since, the reasoning went, the referees and linesmen were beholden to Colin Campbell for their jobs and the opportunity to work in the playoffs (Walkom, back on the ice, officiated in Game 7).
With Gregory Campbell holding the Stanley Cup aloft Wednesday night, no doubt there were plenty of conspiracy theorists -- when they weren't setting something on fire in the downtown -- claiming a pre-determined outcome had been fulfilled.
Gregory Campbell has had to endure his share of taunts from opponents because of his father's position.
"It's certainly satisfying for me, but much more satisfying for him," Colin Campbell, previously an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, said. "From about 11 or 12 (years of age), he got free ice time, he got sticks, he hung around with the trainers and he loved it. He and Adam Graves were best buddies and Steve Yzerman, too, but after that, when he started playing junior, it was all downhill for him, me being who I was, particularly after I took this job.
"It is satisfying. Last November, I said, 'Are you okay?' when all that e-mail crap came out. He said, 'look it, I just want to have you, me and Savvy lifting the Cup in a nice picture and shove it up all their asses.'
"This is real satisfying."
The Campbell Conspiracy will no doubt be embraced by those Canucks fans trying to come to grips with how their team came up short. The fact this is the second time a Campbell has helped beat the Canucks in a Game 7 with the Cup on the line won't help. Colin was the associate coach with the 1994 Rangers who beat the Canucks.
The fact is, the Canucks just weren't good enough when it mattered. They were outscored 23-8 in the series and were fortunate to be playing a seventh game.
When it mattered, the Bruins got a monster performance from their second line with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi accounting for all four goals in the Game 7 win. Goaltender Tim Thomas never wavered and was the clear choice as the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.
When it mattered, the Canucks' big players -- the Sedins, the back-to-back Art Ross Trophy winners; forward Ryan Kesler, clearly playing with an injury; and goaltender Roberto Luongo, the size of his mouth matched only by the size of the holes Bruins shooters found -- came up small.