Like many of you, I spent the last day or so re-reading the Dean Warren decision. The thing that bothered me was not Colin Campbell's dislike of him. Campbell's entitled to feel however he wants about someone. I can only imagine what Hockey Night in Canada's producers say about me, and some of it is actually true.
What I didn't like was when The Doctor of Discipline emails former director of officiating Stephen Walkom: "There must be a way to get rid of this guy. Is there a way we can tract (sic) and total minors called by referees this year."
Walkom responds, "I think we have that data but it may work in his favour ... that's why I'm against data and more about IT ... he doesn't have it, never had it, and is average at best, probably never get it."
This passage means that Campbell, in an effort to get rid of Warren, was going to see if the referee was ignoring league directives about calling penalties. It's an admission there is - or in 2007, were - quotas for officials. If you didn't make enough calls, you weren't grading high.
That's not the way games are supposed to be refereed. What Walkom is emailing about in the above passage - "IT" - is feel. It's a subjective thing, but it should be just as important in determining how a game is called.
1. There is no way Campbell should step down from his job. Doing so would be an admission of guilt. Basing my opinion on yesterday's blog research, there's no reason for him to do that.
2. Using Brett Sutter's arrest as ammunition against father Darryl and uncle Brent in Calgary was grossly unfair. No father/uncle is responsible for the actions of a 23-year-old. "Another Sutter giving the organization a black eye?" The cheapest of cheap shots. While there are legitimate questions about their performance, the elder Sutters did not deserve that.
3. At the all-star game, I want to see only one of Alexander Ovechkin/Sidney Crosby named captain. That way, we'll see if one would actually pick the other.
4. Ten losses in a row will get any coach fired, but there is something unfair about Scott Gordon's dismissal. GM Garth Snow admitted Gordon did an "excellent job" developing the Islanders' young players, which was his most important task. It is borderline impossible to win on Long Island, a team Sean Connery would mock for bringing a knife to a gunfight. Continued improvement from the youthful core is, right now, the best Islanders fans could ask for.
5. Snow, asked if the firing was owner Charles Wang's decision: "No. Absolutely my call."
6. I like Brian Burke's willingness to do almost anything to take the pressure off his players. Canucks in trouble versus Red Wings? Time for a goofy media conference. Todd Bertuzzi incident? "The headline can read 'All Burke's Fault' if it takes the heat off Todd." He's even come up with "Blame me" in Toronto. That's why the Nazem Kadri call-up surprised me so much. It's rare for Burke to throw someone else into the fire, especially a young player who might not be ready.
7. Something else that leads me to believe the Toronto GM is really feeling the heat: In 1998, while in Vancouver, his coach, Mike Keenan, pulled the goalie down 3-1 with 17 minutes to play. Keenan did it again with 10 minutes to go. (Both were power plays, and the Maple Leafs scored on a long shot during the second one.) Burke later said he told assistant Dave Nonis, "The cameras are on us, don't do anything you'll regret." He's acutely aware of that. Last Saturday, he looked too stressed to care that his frustration showed.
8. In September, Ryan Kesler told The Vancouver Province's Ben Kuzma that he was going to write down 10 goals - both individual and team - on a piece of paper. Kesler was willing to share one of them: becoming a better leader by being more positive. "I can hold on to things for a while," he said, smiling. "I'm trying to move past that."
9. Interestingly, Roberto Luongo is trying to adopt a similar attitude, realizing that his profile+his position=magnet for criticism. If Kesler and Luongo do stick with this, it will be critical for the Canucks. Opponents said they could be easily rattled by negativity.
10. Another goalie said Luongo's biggest challenge with his new style will be sticking with it during/after bad games. Luongo realizes that, and says he is committed no matter what.
11. George McPhee, asked what would happen if another GM called about Semyon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth or Braden Holtby? "We're not trading any of them."
12. Same goes for the Canucks and Cory Schneider - this season.
13. The most jarring thing about watching Edmonton? Tom Renney teams - good or bad - are never so loose defensively.
14. It's not exactly a secret that Boston's looking to move salary, but here's the issue, according to another GM: "No one's interested in the first couple of players they are offering." What about the third guy? "Yes, we'd have some interest, but the Bruins are not prepared to do that, yet." Before you ask, he wasn't giving up names.
15. Chicago's in trouble because all of their Western Conference opponents marvelled at their depth last year and said, "We've got to do that, too." So, all of these teams - especially Vancouver - bulked up while the Blackhawks culled down.
16. For example, Duncan Keith already has seven 30-minute games, including the first four and six of the opening eight. Last year, he didn't play that many minutes until Game 28, one of just eight times in the regular season.
17. One GM: "Chicago's got a huge target on its back. It only makes me respect Detroit even more, to have that for 13 years."
18. The Maple Leafs are modelling their use of Kadri after the Blackhawks' early use of Patrick Kane. Chicago kept Kane on the wing, not wanting to serve him up every night to the likes of Joe Thornton and Ryan Getzlaf. Smart move.
19. Lost in the Kadri hype: Keith Aulie is ready to play in the NHL. Aulie, by the way, saved his father's life a couple of Christmases ago, when the tractor his dad was riding fell through ice and into a pond. The good news: Bill Aulie is healthy and they can joke about it now.
20. Got a chance to watch Atlanta up close last week, and you can see one reason why Craig Ramsay is trying Dustin Byfuglien on defence. When Byfuglien gets speed with the puck from his own blue-line, he's impossible to stop.
21. One Thrasher on the team's decent start: "We're being made accountable this year. No one's getting away with anything."
22. Erik Christensen was probably waterboarded for admitting it, but good on him for saying Sean Avery sucker-punched Ladislav Smid. Curious to see if Alex Burrows is so supportive of Avery the next time the Ranger suckers him.
23. Aside from acquiring the Andrej Meszaros contract, I really like what the Flyers are doing. This group could have a lengthy window, especially with Sergei Bobrovsky's emergence.
24. Do wonder, though, if Philly will run into "tagging" issues in trying to extend Ville Leino. They've got about $1.8 million US in cap space, not counting bonuses. (And bonuses won't be allowed to carry over into 2012-13 unless the CBA is extended.)
25. Surprised at people saying St. Louis overpaid for David Backes. If he hit the market, he'd get more than $4.5 million per, easy. Demand will be high for the good players who go that route because more and more are signing long-term deals instead.
26. Doesn't sound like Mark Cuban is interested in majority ownership of the Dallas Stars. Too bad. The Mavericks were a disaster area before he got there. It would also be quality entertainment, because if David Stern can barely stand him, there's no way Gary Bettman would.
27. Bad omen for Andrei Markov? The aftermath of this injury is eerily similar to the one he suffered in the playoffs. It also took a few days to determine the severity, which required a seven-month recovery.
28. John-Michael Liles has 16 points in 17 games. Last year, the Avalanche were offering him up and no one wanted him. (He has another year at $4.2 million.)
29. Funniest thing on the hockey internet? Ryan Lambert's "Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week." (Every Monday on Puck Daddy.) I love them. Last week one fan suggested Pittsburgh trade Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik to Edmonton for Dustin Penner, Andew Cogliano, Jim Vandermeer and a first-round pick.
30. The world would be a better place if no parent outlived a child. Have witnessed that pain first-hand. Strength to the Richardson family.
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