Willie Mitchell threw another hand grenade into league headquarters when he called for a change to the way discipline is handed out. A second Vancouver Canuck has questioned the league’s integrity:
“I think the league needs to, along with our players’ union, take a look at how they run the discipline in the league. Colin Campbell had a lot of relationships with general managers and ownership and stuff like that. It’s very tough to hand down decisions on matters like this when you are friends with people. It’s something the league and players need to look at, to have an outside party handle the discipline in the league (so) it’s consistent. As we’ve seen it hasn’t been very consistent.”
Mitchell, of course, is upset that the hit that injured him was punished with a two minute minor. He’s probably also a little upset that the media also pretty much ignored a dangerous hit that hurt him severely. Marc Savard? He’s back playing. Willie? Half a season after the hit and he still has symptoms.
Campbell’s response was telling, and so was the way TSN presented the story. TSN presents the story as Mitchell complaining about the fact Malkin was not suspended for his hit. He was, but that really wasn’t his point. His real points are 1) Discipline in the league is inconsistent, 2) League impartiality is impossible, and 3) An outside party should be responsible for supplemental discipline.
Colin Campbell, of course, dodged those issues. After pretending that the league gives a shit about player safety, he claimed the hit had been reviewed and “did not require discipline”. He also went on the offensive just as he did when Alex Burrows challenged the integrity of the league. “Willie Mitchell has been involved with me more than once in is own discipline situations so he should understand both sides of the equation.” (TSN piled on by ending the story with “Ironically, it was a crunching, open-ice hit by Mitchell that resulted in Chicago’s Jonathan Toews suffering a concussion in October. Toews missed six games.” Like that “irony” is in any way relevant.)
In a way, Campbell makes Mitchell’s point. Would Mitchell have been suspended if he made a hit that knocked Malkin out for the season? Why didn’t Malkin’s hit require a suspension? It didn’t have anything to do with the fact that Malkin is a superstar and Mitchell is not, did it? Is that why TSN all but ignored Malkin’s hit while happily vilifying Matt Cooke for his on Savard?
The next step will be to fine Mitchell for questioning the integrity of the league. That will surely restore Colin Campbell’s credibility and the credibility of the league’s disciplinary apparatus.