Colin Campbell’s e-mails give glimpse inside NHL

At the very least, Colin Campbell’s e-mail gives a glimpse
inside the workings of the NHL that is seldom seen.

The league disciplinarian comes across as very blunt in a series
of three-year-old messages to former director of officiating
Stephen Walkom, which became public last year as part of a court
case involving former referee Dean Warren. The e-mails received
heightened attention Monday after they were republished by Tyler
Dellow of mc79hockey.com.

Dellow’s research allowed him to fill in some redacted
information, including some instances in which Campbell complained
to Walkom about penalties called against his son Gregory, a former
member of the Florida Panthers who now plays for the Boston
Bruins.

The NHL was quick to defend Campbell, who has spent 12 years as
the league’s vice president of hockey operations. Deputy
commissioner Bill Daly said the tone of the e-mail came as no
surprise to those who have dealt with Campbell.

”You have to know Colie and his personality – he’s often very
direct,” Daly told The Canadian Press. ”One of the unfortunate
parts of those e-mails is they are taken out of the entire context
of discussion. Colie jokes a lot. He has a very dry sense of humor
… so a lot of things he wrote, he almost writes tongue in
cheek.

”You have to know his relationship with his audience and who
he’s talking to. That’s the problem with e-mails, it’s hard to
understand the full flavor and context just by reading them.”

Campbell uses profane language in the messages and urges Walkom
to find out if a penalty against his son late in an untelevised
game was called properly. In a subsequent e-mail, Campbell says he
would have had to fine himself had he attended the game where his
son was called for tripping – which he refers to as a ”weak
penalty” that ”makes me sick.”

In another message, Campbell referred to someone as a ”little
fake artist” who once played for him. Using that and other
information provided, Dellow deduced that the comment was about
Bruins forward Marc Savard.

In addition to handing out suspensions and fines, a major part
of Campbell’s job is watching games and handling complaints from
general managers. His duties are suspended when there are incidents
involving the Bruins.

”He has no official role whatsoever when it comes to games in
which his son his playing,” Daly said. ”He’s not in charge of
supplementary discipline for any of those things and he obviously
doesn’t communicate directly with anybody involved in those games,
including the officials.”

Campbell’s e-mails first appeared in court documents from
Warren’s appeal to the Ontario National Relations Board last year
over what he thought was a wrongful dismissal. That appeal was
denied in October.

Daly said Dellow’s research was accurate ”for the most part,”
but indicated the league was well aware of the e-mails and sees no
cause for concern.

”None of this is new to us,” said Daly.

Dellow is a lawyer who blogs about hockey in his spare time. The
heavy traffic generated by Monday’s story caused his website to
crash.