Welcome Matt: Oilers have to be wary of NHL connection that hurt Canucks in 2011 final

welcome matt canucks

Memo to the Edmonton Oilers and their fans:

I’m sure you’ve dissected the Stanley Cup Final from almost every angle, evaluated the strengths/weaknesses of both clubs, and identified pathways to a championship victory over the Florida Panthers.

But there’s one thing that’s probably escaped your analysis: The Campbell Factor.

Take it from us here in Vancouver. Don’t discount the fact that Gregory Campbell is a Florida Panthers AGM.

We didn’t think much of the Boston Bruins’ fourth-line centre in 2011. Then Aaron Rome hit Nathan Horton and got one of the longest suspensions in the history of the Cup final (four games).

That suspension was handed down by NHL executive Mike Murphy, who was filling in for his boss. Colin Campbell had recused himself from the role of NHL disciplinarian because his son Gregory was competing for Boston.

Murphy admitted that he consulted Brian Burke, a former NHL disciplinarian and Canucks executive, whom everybody in BC knew was on bad terms with Canucks chairman Francesco Aquilini and then-GM Mike Gillis, in arriving at his decision.

Rome’s hit was late, caused injury, and deserved supplemental discipline. But four games in final is somewhere between an eight- and 48-game suspension in the regular season, depending on who you ask.

The prevailing wisdom is that a one-game playoff suspension amounts to two games in the regular season. In 2012, then NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan told ESPN, “If you think about it, that one game in the finals is the equivalent of a 12-game suspension.”

The Canucks felt hard done by, and rightfully so.

Colin Campbell had already admitted in emails that he was “a venting hockey dad” when he questioned his underling, director of officiating Stephen Walkom, about penalties against Gregory’s team.

In no other world than Gary Bettman’s do you get to be a “venting hockey dad” and in charge of on-ice officiating, whereby you abuse power to vent at those in your charge.

That has a chilling effect and directs future behaviour. It’s atrocious management and, in most realms, would be grounds for dismissal.

Colin Campbell remains employed by the NHL (albeit in a different role). A lack of transparency continues to dog NHL officiating. The NHL remains an old boys club. And Bettman continues to not recognize the conflict of interest in his midst nor subscribe to transparency.

You’ve been warned, Oilers fans.