Vancouver Canucks defenseman Willie Mitchell(notes) hasn't played since January 16. That night, he took a hit from Evgeni Malkin(notes) of the Pittsburgh Penguins and suffered a concussion after landing into the boards at GM Place.
The NHL did not suspend Malkin for the hit, nor was there any explanation why the hit went unpunished. That didn't sit well with Mitchell and during his first media appearance since January, the veteran defenseman unloaded on the NHL and NHL Czar of Discipline Colin Campbell.
"I know Colin Campbell has a lot of relationships with general managers and owners and stuff like that," Mitchell said. "It's very tough to hand down decisions on matters like this when you're friends with people. It's like saying I have to discipline my teammates. It's too emotional. You can't always make the right decision."
"I am disappointed in the league, I'm disappointed in Colin Campbell," Mitchell said. "I am disappointed he didn't rule down anything on the play. That's his job. As we've seen, he's been very inconsistent in how he's handled himself in those situations. I think a lot of times he hands down suspensions and fines on results. I think that's the wrong thing to do."
"I think we saw that this year, we saw that with players getting injured," Mitchell said. "The players have called for it where we want him to be more 'aggressive' you could say in these matters. What's it going to take? Someone hit from the behind where they are left lying on the ice dead? I hope not."
It's refreshing to hear a player involved in one of the many controversial decisions by Campbell to speak his mind. It would be great to hear more voices, pro or con, on the subject from NHL players.
Mitchell will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and at the moment, he still suffers post-concussion syndrome symptons like light headaches and head pressure.
Canucks TV has the entire media scrum with Mitchell where he also talks more on the NHL's discpline process and his recovery.