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Colin Campbell on Rangers-Devils line brawl: “We put the onus on the coach and the player”

Mar 20, 2012, 11:58 AM EDT

rangers devils

Interesting tidbit from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun following last night’s free-for-brawl at Madison Square Garden — he reached out to NHL executive vice-president Colin Campbell for his thoughts on the melee.

Campbell was part of the competition committee that, out of the lockout, put rule 46.22 in place — where a player deemed the instigator of a fight in the final five minutes would receive a one-game suspension (in addition to an instigator minor penalty, a major penalty for fighting, and a game misconduct penalty.)

The rule also states the coach of said offender receives a $10,000 fine.

So with the current CBA expiring in September, it’s fair to suggest the topic of staged/end of game fights could re-appear at the negotiating table. To that end, LeBrun posed a question — would the league and players consider tweaking 46.12 to include the beginning of games as well?

Campbell’s reply, from ESPN:

“What we did with the competition committee coming out of the lockout, we crafted a new rule at the end of the game. We put the onus on the coach and the player.

If the GMs find this (line brawl last night) unacceptable, maybe we’d craft it the same way at the start of the game, put the onus on both the player and the coach? Or you’d have to find a current interpretation of the rulebook.”

LeBrun went on to say that “Anyone who thinks that line brawl had any effect on the final outcome of the game is dreaming,” and, “I can tell you the NHL brass is not keen on it, either.”

To be fair, this lack of keenness could be partly due to how both coaches — Peter DeBoer and John Tortorella — handled the situation. In addition to the whole “you started all your goons, so I’m putting a defenseman at center” routine, the two engaged in a heated war of words that included Tortorella’s profanity-laced tirade.

Not to say the fights would have been more “acceptable” had they existed in a vacuum, but the whole shouting and yelling and histrionics only added to the sideshow feel. Is there any real difference between a coach sending his message at the beginning of the game, rather than the end? Sounds like the competition committee will answer that question this summer.

  1. lasallehockey81 - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    What do you think the % percentage is of fans who thought it was absolutely great? 85%? Higher? I noticed the people at MSG didnt disapprove of it. Nobody left. Nobody was disgusted or vowed never to watch the NHL again. I don’t see why you’d need to outlaw something that rarely ever happens in today’s game, anyway. If you allow fighting, then sometimes these things happen in rivalries that you promote, right?

  2. jond86 - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    GD leave the game alone. The instigator penalty is absurd as it is

    • odj810 - Mar 20, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      somtimes its misused, but you shouldn’t be able to just jump guys either. enforcers should never be able to take liberties with whoever they wish and not get another penalty

      • jond86 - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:13 PM

        Yeah, that is true.

  3. cbaber26 - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    there is a reason that this is one of the few hockey highlights that make it onto sportscenter on the season

    • ml3939 - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:48 PM

      Yes, because ESPN does not care about sports that they do not have the rights to. They begrudgingly air their highlights.

  4. tmjm621 - Mar 20, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    If the NHL keeps watering down our PHYSICAL game its gonna be hard for meto watch. Im getting sick of all these tree hugger pussies whining about fighting. Its a game!!! I dont see them going to the united nations and saying ban war. They need to shutup and let us have our Amzing game the way it is.

  5. stakex - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:05 PM

    I just don’t get why the league is becoming so anti-fighting. After all, the sport is there for entertainment… and the fans want fighting to stay. As lasallehockey81 points out, no one at that game last night was upset with what happened and since the players took part in it willingly… I doubt they cared either.

    And these weren’t staged fights either. The Devils put their goons out first and the Rangers made them pay for it. That sounds pretty reasonable to me, and its all part of the game. These pansies that don’t actually play the game need to stop trying to change it to make it “safer” becuase all they are doing is watering it down.

    • elvispocomo - Mar 20, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      Considering all the optics around injuries and particularly injuries to the head of late, the NHL has a reason to be concerned with fighting. Certainly they should be concerned with fighting that has no context to the flow of the game itself. That doesn’t mean they want to remove it all, otherwise it’d be a much simpler solution to do so.

      How about this for a solution, when the Devils put their goons out to start the game, the Rangers put out a centerman who can win the faceoff cleanly along with more skilled players who can force the play into the Devils end and score a goal. That’d make them pay more than trying to fight off the opening faceoff, especially considering all the attention it gets in a game trying to grow in the US.

      It’s no wonder people think hockey is a game played by a bunch of toothless Canadians with low IQs and little actual skill. It’s one thing to ask people to get their kids involved in a sport that has a high initial (on ongoing) cost to participate, but another to expect them to when all the US sports networks focus on is the violent hits and bloody fights.

  6. dallasstars9 - Mar 20, 2012 at 3:09 PM

    This is the NHL right?? Take note from the (N)o(F)un(L)eague.

  7. lasallehockey81 - Mar 20, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    @elvis. Not sure why would it make any sense at all for the NHL to simply ban “staged” fights but not “flow of the game” fights. The motive for a fight hardly has anything to do with the risk of head injury so banning some and allowing others would do absolutely nothing for player safety. It’s not like a headshot.. Takes two willing participants who obviously know the risk. If the NHL is THAT concerned, then it’s an all or nothing decision.

    And how is this a sports network promotional problem? ESPN might show 15 seconds of hockey a day if you’re lucky. Check out the highlights of this game on the NHL’s website… You won’t see the fight at all. The clip starts with 19:00 left in the first. The Flyers/ Wings game a week or so ago where Kronwall knocked out Voracek.. They left that out, as well. NBC sports network? When have they ever promoted a game by giving you the names of the team’s goons? Never. All I ever see are the stars names, playoff implications and division rivalries. I don’t get the impression at all that theres a blatant attempt to grow the sport using its violence, in fact, I see the opposite. Take the winter classic for example.. That’s done more for the growth of the game than anything in the last twenty years. Where’s the promotion of violence there? Violence is a part of the game, sure, but it’s hardly been the selling point. You’re mistaking the NHL for the UFC.

  8. Paul Busch - Mar 20, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    The Rangers and Devils game was a disgrace. Both teams putting their top fighters out for the face-off led to the inevitable. No surprise since they did the same thing back on February 7th. In any other professional sport this kind of display would be regarded as a disaster and a black mark on the league. It would be followed up with a press release from the league office commenting on how disappointed they are in the participants of this action and substantial fines and suspensions would be handed out. It’s unlikely that we will hear anything from the NHL. It’s just business as usual.

    The NHL and NHLPA need to take a stand on this issue, not avoid commenting on it. Fighting adds nothing to the game and has a negative impact that includes injuries, overshadowing the skill and fast paced action and ruining the image of the game. The most popular argument they offer is the whole accountability thing, that enforcers keep cheap shots to a minimum and ensure that players play with respect. It’s a myth. On my blog – – I have published statistics from the past 12 NHL seasons that show when fighting is reduced, non-fighting penalties are also reduced. The same report shows that teams that fight the most also take more non-fighting PIMs. Enforcers don’t control the rats – they are the rats.

    • dallasstars9 - Mar 20, 2012 at 7:34 PM

      Fighting IS a part of the game and any player or coach would tell you so. Looking at your profile it doesn’t appear that you ever played or coached the game, so I’m really not sure how your so called blog on this issue even matters.

  9. wheresdapuck - Mar 20, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    When I went to watch the clip on the Devils-Rangers brawl, I had to watch the “goon” movie trailer first. Gotta love the irony or uniformity – whichever is appropriate!

  10. lasallehockey81 - Mar 20, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    Who is THAT outraged with fighting in hockey that they dedicate an entire site if blogs dedicated to getting rid of it? Paul apparently.

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