Monday, March 17, 2008

Campbell defends Wheel of Justice
'Just be good' to avoid random punishments

"Mr. Simon can state his opinion. Our job is to assess what we feel is fair and right. If Chris didn't do what he has done, he wouldn't need to complain about how we handle discipline."
Let that be a less to the rest of you, less-than-star players!

Of course, Simon isn't arguing that he shouldn't be punished, or that what he did wasn't wrong — he's actually becoming the voice of reason here for questioning why one skate stomp is a 30-game suspension and another is only eight.

To clarify, when I said the Pronger ban was "the right call" on Saturday, that's only in the context of possible outcomes. There was zero chance the NHL would give him anything close to a 30-game suspension with the Ducks on the verge of a title defence, and the team's top defenceman missing any playoff time was always highly unlikely.

The right call in the wrong system, one that makes less sense as we go along here.

Even still, good on Simon for speaking up.
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27 Comments:

At 3:21 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) What kind of Bizzaro world do we live in when Chris Simon is the voice of reason!?! Unfortunately he IS correct.
2) There is no doubt reading Colin Campbell's statement that he and the league are feeling a wee bit sensitive about how this was handled. (Deservedly so) This is supposed to be a major league sports league. In regard to its discipline its NOT run as such!

 
At 3:33 PM, March 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure that Simon's speaking up will really go a long way in helping him when he does something retarded again, in about, ohh, lets say another week.

This is a guy who set the suspension record twice in half a season. A smart move by Simon would be to keep his mouth shut.

 
At 3:33 PM, March 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What makes Campbell a candidate to become a new Leafs GM? If we leave all Leafs jokes aside I can't see any good reason to even think about Campbell.

He has no previous experience in management position. He is horrible with press. In fact, he doesn't sound very intelligent which he proved again with this response.

Leafs should drop his name of their list yesterday.

 
At 3:39 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger YzermanZetterberg said...

Other than the randomness and lack of consistency offered by the NHL's disciplinary office (which we already knew about), I think the biggest thing to come out of this whole scenario is the fact that the league DOESN'T make every effort to assure it has reviewed each incident completely before rendering a decision. How many other cases have there been where a different camera angle would have made the difference between "no further discipline" and "multiple game suspension?" Gary Bettman recently touted the NHL's replay review system as the best in sports on his radio show. If that's the case, then other sports' systems must REALLY suck. Hopefully, the league will finally learn a few valuable lessons about examining all available evidence and dispensing justice equally.

 
At 3:52 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Bah. Tell me why we have to be reduced to the simple logic that the Simon incident and the Pronger incident have to be treated the same since both involved the unfortunate term "stomp"?

If Simon were really a voice of reason, he might address some of the differences in the stomp-affairs:

a)The difference between the act happening between whistles or while play was happening.

b)The difference that Simon went through an on-ice official trying to separate Simon from Ruutu.

c)The difference in evidence. Simon had a lot more going for his suspension than one YouTube.

d)The difference that Simon had to go out of his way to get to Ruutu--Pronger had Kesler already at his feet, which makes intent more difficult to establish.

Good on Simon for speaking up, as I think his suspension was overblown, but I don't know what value there is to oversimplify two different events, and assume the NHL was supposed to react to distinct cases with the same number of games.

I do like YzermanZetterberg's take, though. The NHL has some improvement to do in that review-all-angles function.

 
At 3:54 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Dennis Prouse said...

Naturally Campbell is a little sensitive, what with his bare tail hanging in the proverbial breeze right now. Not only was he forced to reverse field on the Pronger call, but is also exposes the fact that Chris Simon was the victim of a wildly excessive penalty. I know Campbell has a thankless job, but it is painfully obvious that he blew this one, and badly.

 
At 3:55 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Yzerman, we don't buy that "we didn't have all the angles" bull. This is the same league that reviews all goals and they tell us that they didn't have all available camera angles? Come on Colin Campbell, that doesn't pass the sniff test!

 
At 4:04 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger YzermanZetterberg said...

FAUX RUMORS -- I agree it's more than a little fishy. But if it wasn't "overlooked in the rush to judgment" (my words), are you implying that someone broke ranks with the NHL hierarchy -- or perhaps even intentionally leaked the second Pronger video -- to bring their hypocrisy into clear focus?

 
At 4:24 PM, March 17, 2008, OpenID borgesianfields said...

I wrote about the issue this week.

And here's a thought: some people say that Simon has no authority to complain, being that he has a pair of lengthy suspensions. But don't you think Pronger would have more lengthy suspensions if he weren't a star in the league? I.e. what would have happened if Chris Simon hit people high in two CONSECUTIVE playoff series... methinks he'd have gotten more than two, one-game suspensions.

Pronger can get away with anything, so why should he even bother playing within the rules?

 
At 5:00 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Aaron said...

Sleek I really can't even see where you are coming from anymore except from the standpoint as a Ducks fan who doesn't want to lose Pronger. What does it matte if the whistle had blown or not? You can't plan to do something later in the game? Isn't that how a lot of fights happen? I don't even know what your second or third points mean. In fact the only one that makes some sense is your last one but that single point shouldn't be worth 22 games of suspension time. You can argue that it's not fair for the other Ducks players to lose their captain for the postseason, but it's also not fair to the other teams in the western conference who now know that Pronger can do whatever he wants and nothing will really happen. You're going to upset the competition whether you suspend him or not, so why not do the right thing?

What I don't understand is why the league refuses to sit Pronger, or anyone else really, for playoff games the way they do regular season games. If the playoffs are more important, and they are, doesn't THE CAPTAIN of the team have a responsibility to keep himself under control so as not to jeopardize the team's chances? Shouldn't that be a bigger consideration for him than getting Kessler back? I just don't understand the mentality behind that and I think it sets a dangerous precedent. What would Pronger have had to do to get suspended for multiple playoff games? At this point it's a very legitimate question.

Speaking of precedents, the league set the precedent on the Simon incident that using a skate blade as a weapon is a SERIOUS infraction. If the league was concerned about possibly being forced to suspend a star player for 20-30 games someday, they shouldn't have suspended Simon for 30 games. I think I've said this before, but if we were talking about a Lady Byng Trophy type player who has had no discipline problems I'd be fine with the 5-10 game range but that's not who we were dealing with here. At this point in his career I do not believe Pronger is entitled to any more or less of a benefit of the doubt than Simon. The two should be treated completely equal in the eyes of the NHL's justice system. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

Of course, I don't know what else I would expect from the world's most incompetent sports league.

 
At 5:07 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

My main points are that with Simon, it's much easier for the league to determine things like intent, premeditation, and insubordination to referees. All those are tougher (if not inapplicable) to assign to the Pronger incident, which only relies on one interpretive YouTube.

The crime might be the same, but the evidence and situation were pretty different, and I seem to be in some minority who thinks those differences matter in what the league could hand out.

 
At 5:52 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger rickibear said...

When a person in power of a sports league makes an unequal decision that will influence the outcome of regular season games and playoffs. That is match fixing. If it causes a diffrence in legal betting
(sportselect), isn't that illegal.

 
At 6:03 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

The crime might be the same, but the evidence and situation were pretty different, and I seem to be in some minority who thinks those differences matter in what the league could hand out.

How much so Earl? Five, six games difference? Seven or eight, maybe, tops?

We're talking about a 22-game difference, and you can't justify that given how similar the incidents were.

 
At 6:19 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

How much so Earl?

I don't know; it's certainly not 22 games' worth, but I think it's enough to not just make blanket statements about one incident deserving the same as the other.

I'm not against Simon speaking out about his punishment in relation to Pronger's; I am against the suggestion that the league should have arrived at the same number of games in both cases.

 
At 6:24 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Yzerman: We don't believe any evidence was 'leaked' or "discovered". We believe that the league used that as cover for their change of heart.
2) That sounds much better than 'we were getting so much heat from fans/the press, that we had to suspend Pronger' after saying initialy we wouldn't.

 
At 6:55 PM, March 17, 2008, Anonymous Pookie said...

Earl, what do you mean when you derisively refer to the video evidence of Pronger's actions as a "YouTube"? The video evidence was game footage. Game footage that the League and TSN both had access to. This wasn't some viral video spliced together by some stoner for fun. It was actual video taken of Pronger using his skate blade a weapon. The fact that the NHL was obtuse enough to ignore it until TSN took the time to remove the graphics from the feed doesn't make the video evidence any less valid as a record of the events.

 
At 7:25 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

Earl, what do you mean when you derisively refer to the video evidence of Pronger's actions as a "YouTube"?

Nothing intended to be derisive there. I use "YouTube" and "video" interchangeably--YouTube is just where I saw the footage.

My point was that Simon would have been suspended without any video--the referee was sufficient evidence. In Pronger's case there really wasn't anything else to rely on besides that one video angle, which still had some interpretation to it.

 
At 7:32 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Baroque said...

When a person in power of a sports league makes an unequal decision that will influence the outcome of regular season games and playoffs. That is match fixing. If it causes a diffrence in legal betting
(sportselect), isn't that illegal.


Interesting point - there isn't much betting on hockey, I don't think.

I wonder if this is one of the reasons that suspensions in the NFL are so rigid (eg four games for a first offense of the drug policy)? I know that is one of the reasons the teams are supposed to report injuries accurately - so the betting is fair because it is less likely that someone will get inside information.

I can see the logic behind giving Pronger fewer games - but I think giving him 20 - 23 compared to the 30 for Chris Simon would have been more fair. Still less, but it reflects how seriously the league takes skate infractions by repeat offenders.

That of course assumes the league cares about the appearance of fairness before the rules with respect to star status.

The annoying thing is that Pronger doesn't have to pull any of this crap. He has the talent to be a fine defenseman without cheap shots, and he hits hard enough without getting his elbows up that he is intimidating without acting like a brat on the ice.

 
At 9:12 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

What would have happened if Kesler had stepped on Pronger? He's not a star like Pronger nor a goon like Simon, and he doesn't have a lengthy suspension record. Would he have deserved more than eight games, or less?

Looking at it this way, I think that 5-8 games would have been about right, which suggests to me that Pronger's suspension was too short. I'm okay with the idea that playoff games are more critical than regular season games, but perhaps if they'd tailored the suspension to make sure he missed Game 1 it might have sent a lesson that the league was serious.

 
At 9:28 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Patty (in Dallas) said...

The crime might be the same...

The crime IS the same.

 
At 10:20 PM, March 17, 2008, Anonymous Nael said...

Keep in mind that due to the current CBA, the league could only look at the discipline a player's received in the last 18 months when determining a suspension. Simon had the 25-game suspension for stick swinging still fresh in everybody's mind when he stomped on Ruutu, so anything less than that would've been unacceptable to the public. By comparison, Pronger only has had those two 1-game suspensions from last year's playoffs in the past year and a half, so it should not be a surprise that he got a ridiculously shorter punishment for the same act. (Not to mention the player's association would probably cry foul if a star player suddenly went from a one game suspension to thirty.)

I do agree with Earl that the context of the attacks should've been taken into account (Simon clearly was out to injure Ruutu, while it's not as easy to argue the same with Pronger) but as James points out, even if intent and other variables were accounted for, the difference in length shouldn't have been that wide.

 
At 10:45 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Earl Sleek said...

(Simon clearly was out to injure Ruutu, while it's not as easy to argue the same with Pronger)

But everyone makes it look so easy to argue that :)

I neglected to mention, Campbell brought up some other factors at Russo's Rants, but I think they are bogus.

One was salary, which I think is complete b.s. That shouldn't matter in the slightest. The other was the recentness of the previous suspensions, which I'm also not really sold on. If the league wants to look 18 months back, let them stick to their principles.

I did give some thought to your post, James, about ice time, but I think that's a bit off too. When it comes to suspensions, that should be about days missed, not shifts missed.

Simon got shafted, or Pronger got let off, but not by 22 games.

 
At 10:59 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger poploser said...

nael:

Keep in mind that due to the current CBA, the league could only look at the discipline a player's received in the last 18 months when determining a suspension.

Technically that's not true - The CBA says that if a player doesnt have a suspension for 18 months, the next suspension will be his "first". Pronger's suspensions last year should keep him within that 18 month window, so this would not be treated as his "first" offense.

By comparison, Pronger only has had those two 1-game suspensions from last year's playoffs in the past year and a half, so it should not be a surprise that he got a ridiculously shorter punishment for the same act.

There's the problem right there. The league, in my view, went way too easy on Pronger in the past. So you’ve got two players with a history of crossing the line in violent ways. One of whom gets treated very harshly, and one who gets treated with kid gloves. That is a big problem to me as a fan.

(Not to mention the player's association would probably cry foul if a star player suddenly went from a one game suspension to thirty.)

That would be very interesting to see. It would be hard for the NHLPA to justify any incident where a skate was used like this.

 
At 11:34 PM, March 17, 2008, Blogger Joe Pelletier said...

Hi James. I saw your post about hockey having the wrong suspension system, but I wondered what you thought could really be done about it?

Over at GreatestHockeyLegends.com I proposed a standard suspension for every player commiting the crime. Much like the penal system. Kill a guy, go to jail. Step on a guy in hockey, you miss 30 games.

Of course I know this is unrealistic. There's too much gray matter with every case, because hockey has always condoned violence. Soon enough someone would make it a legal issue.

Anyways, I would be interested in any feedback you have. The article can be found at:
http://www.greatesthockeylegends.com/2008/03/nhl-suspensions-not-working-time-to.html

 
At 10:26 AM, March 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris Simon can become the Jose Canseco of hockey, where the biggest offenders become the only truth sayers left. The best outcome of this would be two lawsuits; Pronger for doable jeopardy (which would expose the league for not performing due diligence) and Simon for unjust loss of income (which would expose the totally arbitrary sanctions by the NHL).

Pronger's repeated slaps on the wrist have proven to him that elbows to the head and attempts to injure really aren't that bad and that he really hasn't been at fault for anything that has transpired in the past. Simon no longer needs to showe contrititon because his suspension is already set to max and his next incident will be his last.

 
At 11:14 AM, March 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still think that striking a player in the calf is far worse than striking a player in the skate. Skates are designed to be stepped on by skate blades without serious injury and the back of a player's leg isn't. You can even argue that Simon made the conscious effort to hit Ruttuu where he couldn't be hurt.

PS
Simon didn't go "out of his way" through an official. They were both at the bench on a line change. So let's not make up more evidence to show that these are dramatically different offenses.

 
At 3:55 PM, March 18, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's too much gray matter with every case, because hockey has always condoned violence.

Actually, I think the argument being put forth is that there's not enough gray matter.

The best outcome of this would be two lawsuits; Pronger for doable jeopardy...

"Welcome Back to Doable Jeopardy. The Game Show for Athletes and other not especially bright people. Let's meet our guests. Our first contesant is Chris, who currently resides in Anaheim. Chris, tell us about yourself"

"Well, I, um, my wife doesn't like me talking to other women..."

"I'll stop you right there. Next we have Colin..."

 

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