January 14, 2010
After defending the $2,500 fine for Burrows, Campbell explained that the timing of Auger's comments were problematic: Going up to Burrows before the game and telling the Vancouver Canucks player that his alleged embellishment of an injury influenced Auger's decision to hand Jerred Smithson(notes) of the Nashville Predators a game misconduct on Dec. 8, 2009.
Auger's side of the story would appear to be that he told Burrows he "didn't need the help" in making a call like that, and registering his displeasure. Which is a few light years away from what Burrows claims he said.
Ah, well: At least Campbell and the NHL are inching toward some level of candor and detail regarding their decision not to punish Auger. Too bad it was absent in their official statement released to the media last night, a.k.a. a form of media consumed by slightly more people than NHL Live.
As we're suffering from a bit of Auger-fatigue, we turn the focus to another big story Campbell covered in his interview: The hit from Sergei Gonchar(notes) of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Cal Clutterbuck(notes) of the Minnesota Wild during their game Monday night, and the fact that Gonchar wasn't suspended for this 5-minute major for interference:
So, where did the NHL Wheel of Justice land on this one? Squarely on "Gonchar is a good citizen."
First, kudos to EJ Hradek for asking the question on the Gonchar hit. Here's what Campbell had to say about the lack of supplemental discipline:
"Every 5-minute major is not a suspension or a fine. There's gotta be a little bit of passion in the game.
"Cal Clutterbuck leads the League, or is close to leading the League, in hits. He hit Gonchar very hard into the boards prior to that -- real hard. That could have been boarding. Could have been charging. It wasn't. So Gonchar, who's been hurt before and knocked out before and suffered a concussion; he's on the receiving end more than he's on the giving end -- I don't think he's ever been on the giving end -- he went in and it was a 5-minute interference penalty and he hit him with his shoulder.
"We felt the penalty was the penalty. We don't feel [based on] past history that Gonchar deserved to be suspended. Clutterbuck came out and I thought his statement was ridiculous, that somebody's going to ‘get this guy'. Last time I looked, Sergei Gonchar wasn't on too many guys hit lists."
Huh, that's strange: Last time we looked Sergei Gonchar was blindsiding an opponent with a hit to the head that's an obvious intent to injure, something that's clearly validated by Campbell's admission that Gonchar had been hit earlier in the sequence.
"I'd have been suspended indefinitely," Clutterbuck said. "There's no doubt that all he was trying to do was hurt me."
Gonchar told Pittsburgh reporters: "[Clutterbuck] hit me in the head, which I thought the NHL was now looking for. ... In my opinion it was a late [hit], a [dirty] hit and that's why I paid him back."
As for Gonchar's hit, Clutterbuck said if he was knocked out or taken off the ice on a stretcher, "then it's an uproar. But because I got up and my nose is bleeding a little bit, it's a different story?"
It's actually stunning how Down Goes Brown perfectly captured the thinking here in the now-legendary Suspension Flow Chart, though we suppose an argument could be made that Clutterbuck's non-penalized hit instigated Gonchar's hit to the head.
But that argument is secondary to the "Gonch is a good egg" thesis that was clearly at the core of Campbell's thought process here. Which is a joke, considering Gonchar's actions.