Weekend Winner: The NHL's Petty Tyrant

Entered as evidence in a wrongful termination filing by a former referee are a series of emails from NHL Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. He appears alternately juvenile, incompetent and biased. Business as usual.

All credit in the world to mc79hockey.com, who did all the legwork combing Dean Warren's filing after being fired in 2008 for what he claims was his pro-union activities.

To prove that his dismissal was performance related and not union busting or payback, the league released a number of emails between disciplinarian Colin Campbell and Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom. They're redacted to remove certain dates and names, but there are some gems here. Oh, there are some gems.

After Warren called a bad penalty and was assigned to work a game in the same city:

Colin Campbell/NYC/NHL
10/#/2006 01:23PM
To "Stephen Walkom"
Subject Warren

Are you trying to f____ with my head? Sending this guy back into …..after the …..call and others? Have you talked to him yet and have you seen the penalty he called on [player]? Should I call him? Talk to [another referee] he will tell you the horseshit game Warren had and how hard it was to work with him. This guy is in serious trouble. He will be in trouble as soon as [coach or general manager] sees him tonight…they will think you are shoving it up their ass. Maybe you should call [general manager] as a pre-emptive strike but talk to Warren first.

Later, another missed call:

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 shit. 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].

This one's kind of fascinating, because there's enough of a description to nail down the specific game and penalty. The "little fake artist" Colin Campbell has it out for? Marc Savard. Or perhaps it's more about the player who was unjustly penalized: Gregory Campbell, Colie's son.

The next season:

From: Colin Campbell
Sent: 11/#/2007 09:54 PM EST
To: Stephen Walkom
Subject: Penalty

Game not televised. Radio announcers said it was a bullshit penalty…you need to find out for me. How…I don't know but this was awful. 1:30 left in 2-1 game for [team] and [player] scored with 2 second left to tie it up them won in OT. FUCK

From: Stephen Walkom
Sent: 11/#/2007 09:56 PM EST
To: Colin Campbell
Subject: Re: Penalty

ok ill find out….

Re: Penalty
11/#/2007 10:48 PM
Colin Campbell to Stephen Walkom

Did you find out anything? It was [another referee] that made the call. Keep Warren and gas this shithead. 90 seconds left and he calls a weak penalty…tripping. Makes me sick. If I was at the game I would have had to fine me.

Let's point out again that Campbell didn't actually see this penalty, but the radio announcers (no chance of homerism there, I'm sure) thought it was a bad call. That's the kind of standards we're dealing with here people.

Or maybe it has to do with the fact that the penalized player was, again, Gregory Campbell.

So what do we know about the NHL? Don't call a penalty on anyone related to the guy in charge. The league office doesn't need to actually see a call to know it was wrong. Marc Savard will never draw a penalty. And if you think the NHL's decisions from on high are capricious and arbitrary? Well, it's a little harder to disagree with that today.

Who did Colin Campbell call "a little fake artist"? [mc79hockey]