Graphic Comments: Campbell, the suit that acts like a heel


The latest disclosure of emails related to the NHL concussion lawsuit leaves a lot of questions unanswered. But the biggest one might just be, “why does Colin Campbell still have an email account?”

But the fact that he does have an email account, and uses it, leads to a much more important follow-up question, “why does he still have a job with any kind of responsibility for what happens in the NHL?”

No, really. Why?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

I mean, it’s not like we didn’t already know about how he likes to abuse his position.

But some of the latest emails to be released really make you wonder what redeeming qualities Campbell actually has as an NHL executive.

What the leaked emails show is that he constantly shifts positions, particularly on fighting, depending on who he’s talking to, basically in order to cover his ass:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


He’s an old school guy, that thinks the game should be played the way it was when he was a player. Back when guys got their “bell rung” and just shook it off and got back out there for their next shift. Not like the softies in today’s game. If anything, they’re the ones that should be suspended for getting injured:



This is the guy that was making decisions on supplementary discipline.

It’s apparent that he thinks he and the rest of the guys he played with during the 70s and 80s were of a much hardier stock that didn’t get hurt from a little bump on the head. But if you really think about the suspensions handed out by Campbell and the rest of the former players involved in the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision-making process, I’m not so sure they’re not all suffering from concussion symptoms:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


But it’s not enough that Campbell clearly has some misguided principles on the parts of the job that could actually benefit from his experience as a player in the league. No, he also feels qualified to discount professionals in fields in which he has absolutely no training, expertise or experience:


And he’s not alone. Mike Murphy thinks along similar lines:


Although at least he seems to realize he’s saying something stupid, maybe. The telling part may actually be how he admits taking shots to the head and playing through them.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

It was so much easier when you didn’t have those pesky doctors telling you that you might be causing permanent damage to your head.

Or back in the days when you could feel safer draped head to toe in asbestos:


Good times.

The point is this, Campbell’s email conversations hint at a deep disrespect for today’s players and to their safety. He believes the NHL is in business to “sell hate”, presumably rather than excitement of skilled hockey plays. He has a tendency to blame the victim, when it comes to head injuries. He is unable to remain impartial when it comes to making decisions and throwing the weight of his position around. And he is vindictive.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The first batch of emails that came in 2010 were part of a wrongful-dismissal lawsuit against the NHL brought by Dean Warren, a former NHL official. The emails show a pattern of Campbell looking for excuses for to fire Warren, after he was elected to an executive position with the NHL Officials Association.

And now in this latest release, we see that seven years later, Campbell is as vindictive as ever, as he demands a list of names of all the NHL trainers that have an issue with how the league is dealing with the concussion issue:



This is a senior executive of a multi-billion dollar business.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

And you know what the trainers’ chief complaint was? They wanted better treatment options for players. Yes, they also thought the league could be doing more in terms of educating players, coaches and referees in order to reduce head injuries, but the biggest thing they, as trainers, were concerned about was the health of the players and how best to help them treat players that had suffered head injuries.

And to this request, Colin Campbell could only muster the following response:


So yeah, you know who the real freaking idiot is?

The guy that let Colin Campbell keep an email account.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below


Or better yet, maybe we should go to the top and think about the guy that continues to let Colin Campbell keep his job.


Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

  • Riley Miner

    I give this piece an F grade.

    We all know the Colin Campbell character is just a persona created to illicit reaction from easily duped, fringe media types like this one….

  • Canuck4Life20

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The terrible reffing and inconsistent suspensions in the NHL all start at the top. I want so bad to see the Canucks overcome all the obstacles in front of them to win the Cup but have had it with the NHL. Ever since the latest lockout I have watched less and less games involving other teams. This season I only watched the Canucks. I certainly won’t be tuning in for the playoffs or the farce that will be the World Cup.

  • Peachy

    I think the mistake is to believe that society’s best people occupy the positions of leadership and influence.

    That’s the way we would like it to be, and–because of our high regard for economic success–implicitly believe to be the case. I don’t see much evidence of it, though.

  • Marvin101

    Are we really surprised at all that? I’ve always said that the NHL is a dog and pony show. Now we can verify this to be truth based on the donkey ass that helps run the place…

  • TrueBlue

    My real hope here is that he’s not used as the fall guy for the NHL’s demeanor. He’s a huge culprit, but obviously not the only problem.

    If he was able to express his views so openly within so many group emails and with the clear attention of the highest ranking NHL executives, then the NHL and those executives are providing (at a bare minimum) tacit approval for his opinions & policies. More realistically, many of his opinions must be shared, otherwise why wouldn’t you weed this person out of your organization ages ago?

  • Riley Miner

    The cozy relationship between “analysts” like McKenzie and Dreger and the NHL brass is just as troubling. It’s pretty clear that guys like them aren’t loyal to the game of hockey but to the NHL.

  • TrueBlue

    I’ve often heard that the upper echelons of the NHL are an old boy’s club, but it didn’t quite resonate with me until now.

    Is there any other professional organization where the upper management goes around calling each other “Kinger”, “Spotter”, “Coly”, and “Burkie”?

    Seriously, can you imagine being a woman hired into the NHL management ranks, and all the old boys have nicknames for each other that are relics of their 50 year careers where they made millions in a completely male-only sport.

    I know it’s not realistic to imagine a woman in NHL management, but it is just a thought experiment.