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Did a grudge against Savard let Cooke get away clean?

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  November 15, 2010 12:36 PM

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Colin Campbell may have some explaining to do.

Hockey blogger Tyler Dellow has uncovered a number of 2007 e-mails from the NHL disciplinarian in which Campbell allegedly displays a long-standing grudge against Bruins center Marc Savard. Suddenly, the reason why Matt Cooke's hit on Savard did not warrant a suspension last March makes a lot more sense.

According to Yahoo! Sports, the emails were submitted as evidence in a complaint brought before the Ontario Labour Relations Board by former NHL official Dean Warren, who disputed his termination from the NHL. Dellow's site is currently down (Here's the original post from Dellow, cached.), no doubt thanks to today's added traffic, but Yahoo! has the relevant entries.

To Stephen Walkom/Tor/NHL@NHL Subject Re: Delayed Penalties/High Sticks 02/#/2007 4:24 pm A bend in the road is a dead end if you round the corner and Dean Warren is standing there. Your answer re: his high stick calls and the score of the game were horse [bleep]. The 3rd call on [player] was while they were down 5 on 4 and on a def zone face off vs that little fake artist [player] I had him in [city] biggest faker going. And Warren fell for it when he grabbed his face on a face off. Your supposed to see the act, not call the embellishing act. Dean Warren has to go with [referee] 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. We could then get the minors they call per game. ... or with 2 [referees on the ice] it is impossible? Warren and [referee] out of [club's] games. Give them to [referees].

Though the names were redacted, Dellow narrowed the game in question to be a Feb. 24, 2007 game between the Florida Panthers and the Boston Bruins. The only player with three minor penalties in that game was Campbell's son, Gregory. And the player he allegedly hit with his stick on his first of the night was Savard. Campbell coached "he little fake artist" in New York during the 1997-98 NHL season. Gregory Campbell has one goal and three assists this year for the Bruins, his first season with the team. Of course, Savard has yet to suit up for Boston this season, still suffering from post-concussion symptoms. 

Another Campbell e-mail about Savard:

Re [player] Colin Campbell to Stephen Walkom, Mike Murphy 02/#/2007 09:21 AM I know Murph and Kinger like [player] as a player but my view of him is this exactly...he puts his whining ahead of the game. I don't think this is a regular occurrence (.....getting screwed) and .....exploded .........over the disallowed goal. He may be uncontrollable by .............and.................as I think his frustration level has hit a high point. He hates officials as well. He is still pissed off at [referee] for a call he missed in the playoffs years ago as I remember him bugging Murph about it. Let's give him Warren and [referee] than (sic) he will really have something to whine about.

Of course, fast-forward to last March, when Campbell ruled there was no intent to injure by Cooke and we should have a big ol' resignation on tap. ESPNBoston.com's James Murphy Tweeted earlier, "Bruins players wouldn't discuss Colin Campbell-Marc Savard story. Gregory Campbell was available to discuss hockey but not that." 

Update: Earlier this afternoon, Globe Bruins writer Fluto Shinzawa received the following statement from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly:

"As Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for the National Hockey League, Colin Campbell is required to analyze and assess, candidly and directly, the performance of every member of the Hockey Operations Department -- including those of all on-ice officials. He also is required to execute the direction of the 30 Clubs with regard to standards of on-ice rule enforcement as well as on-ice player conduct. In the execution of those rigorous and challenging duties over 12 seasons, Colin has been thorough, thoughtful, professional and scrupulous; his integrity has been impeccable, and he has no role whatsoever in matters pertaining to games in which his son plays. Colin Campbell has the complete confidence and support of the National Hockey League, as do all members of the Hockey Operations Department."

The league said the statement would serve as the extent of its comment on the matter.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.

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