(UPDATE: Gary Bettman announced before Game 1 that Brendan Shanahan takes over the NHL disciplinarian role next season, and will also be head of the league's Dept. of Player Safety.)
If you've been wishing for a change in the way the NHL hands out its discipline, then June 1 might be your Christmas morning.
Darren Dreger of TSN broke the news Wednesday morning that Colin Campbell, the NHL's senior vice president and director of hockey operations since 1996, is resigning his post as league disciplinarian. He'll remain on as vice president of hockey operations.
Brendan Shanahan, hired in 2009 as the NHL's vice president of hockey and business development, is likely the man to replace Campbell according to Dreger, but there could be a bigger change in the the supplementary discipline process in the works.
Campbell's last season as the NHL's sheriff was a tumultuous one.
In November, blogger Tyler Dellow pieced together a chain of emails from Campbell from several years ago to NHL executives that exposed candid comments about referees, penalties called on his son Gregory, and calling Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins "a little fake artist."
To Campbell, those emails were "much ado about nothing" and that it was all a bunch of "locker room talk" as the NHL quickly tried to shut down the story.
Then last month while appearing on TSN Radio, Campbell lost his cool several times while debating with the hosts on the Raffi Torres non-suspension against the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round, as well as the hit in the Winter Classic on Sidney Crosby.
The public outcry from fans and media over the past few seasons has only grown as the NHL's handling of supplementary discipline became more and more inconsistent with each new dirty hit and headshot.
The "Wheel of Justice" joke was born out of the inconsistent nature of suspensions. There was also the conflict of interest in the NHL's disciplinarian having a son playing in the league. While Campbell claimed he was not involved in any decisions regarding teams his son Gregory played for or against, the optics there never looked good.
Campbell has already recused himself from his disciplinary duties for the Stanley Cup Final with his son playing for the Boston Bruins.
After the TSN interview, it just seemed like it was only a matter of time before Campbell was moved out of the position. The stress and criticism that had been increasing over time looked to be getting to him and a change would be good for both him and for the league.
Shanahan is the man behind the league's Research, Development and Orientation camp that debuted last summer, as well as revamping the All-Star format to include a player draft; a move that put much more interest in the game than in year's past.
As Dreger mentioned, a change in the discipline process could be coming for the NHL and Shanahan, with a track record already of successful ideas, leading the charge in an overhaul could bring consistency and more importantly, confidence of the fans and media to the job.
The role of league disciplinarian is not an easy one as Campbell found out. It's hard to please all parties involved and Shanahan has developed a sterling reputation in his short tenure as a league executive. Now possibly taking on a thankless job, how long will that reputation remain sterling?
- Brendan Shanahan