Pollard: Campbell looks at discipline on a case-by-case basis

Dan Pollard
2/5/2009 3:04:30 PM
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Trying to figure how justice is meted out in the NHL?

It's not as simple as finding a chart to read that a high stick means a player will sit for three games. There's no simple formula for the NHL's long arm of the law Colin Campbell. Everything is dealt with on a case to case basis.

As shown by his five game suspension of Los Angeles Kings' defenceman Denis Gauthier for an elbow to the head of the Canadiens' Josh Gorges, Campbell isn't afraid to use a heavy hand to re-enforce the message that heads should not be targeted. Gauthier's punishment however should not be viewed as the standard for hits to the head. Gauthier was a repeat offender and as such was dealt with differently then a player who committed the same foul the same way but without a history of similar sin. That player may get three games. Campbell is clear when he tells players he doesn't want to see them on the carpet in his office again especially when it involves a similar type of offence.

That's what saved Calgary Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr from some time on the sidelines. Before the All Star break, after being pushed by Derek Dorsett of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Regehr raised his stick and cross checked Dorsett as they scuffled. Dorsett was cut. A suspension seemed certain. None was forthcoming. Campbell spoke to Regehr and he was fined $2,500 which the maximum under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. It seemed like an opportunity was missed to send a message to the league about using a stick as a weapon. Campbell says Regehr was not a repeat offender, Dorsett was not seriously hurt, (a few stitches were needed) and most importantly Regehr had never been called up on the carpet for a stick infraction.

The league does not report fines so it appeared the incident was swept under the rug. Rest assured it was reviewed and Campbell says a suspension is forthcoming if there is another stick infraction involving Regehr. Call it a stick infraction mulligan.

There's no denying Campbell's job is tough. Someone is always unhappy. There's always a variable.

Maybe it's time for a more rigid standard to take some of the guessing out of the game.       

The Pittsburgh Penguins have unveiled a big body with some offensive upside. 6' 2" Luca Caputi, a Toronto native, didn't take long to make an impression scoring on his first shift in his first game. It doesn't guarantee future success but the Pens are hoping with a history of 35 points in 46 games this year at the AHL level and a 51 goal season as a junior with the Niagara Ice Dogs, he has offensive pedigree that will translate to success with the big club. They can use more big body presence with offensive upside. He's expected to contribute at a top two-line level as he continues his career.
It's thought that Caputi's all around game took him out of play last season at the trade deadline when Angelo Esposito became part of the package that was used to bring Marian Hossa to Pittsburgh.
The Pens can use everything they can get in their push for a playoff spot. They lost in Montreal Tuesday and needed a big comeback against Tampa Wednesday to win. Either they buy into Michel Therrien's system (1-2-2) and stay consistent or they pack up their hockey bags early this year.  Word is the Pens would love to get Colby Armstrong back in their lineup.

Something else to consider, Ty Conklin pushed Marc Andre Fleury last year. There's no such push this year. Fleury is going to have to steal some games down the stretch himself.
On the upside is it just me or since the Pens last meeting with Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals is Evgeni Malkin playing with more of an Ovechkin edge? I've even seen Malkin imitating the Ovechkin leap into the glass after a goal.  

Clouston we've got a problem. Cory Clouston don't be afraid to take the towels and those little soaps during your stint as head coach of the Ottawa Senators. Don't take it personally but the gig is guaranteed only until the end of the regular season when in all likelihood the Sens year will wrap up. This situation is deeper than a new break-out plan. You still need the defensemen to move the puck out of your zone. On another level that dressing room needs some positive vibes while at the same time players have to be held accountable. Good luck.  


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