Willie Mitchell criticizes Colin Campbell's 'relationships'


williemitch.jpgWillie Mitchell finally spoke to the media today after being out of action since January 16 because of concussion issues caused by an Evgeni Malkin hit. The rugged defenseman spoke out against NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell, particularly the effects his “relationships” have on some of his decision making.

The Vancouver Province has the story.

“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.”

Mitchell is one of the league’s most underrated shutdown defenseman and you have to think that the Canucks missed him (especially in that horrible Game 6). Here’s video of the Mitchell press meeting.

There’s really no doubt that there is at least some form of “double standard” for star players. If it were, say, Matt Cooke instead of Evgeni Malkin who delivered that hit on Mitchell, odds are there would have been a fine or even a suspension.

Regardless, Mitchell’s a great defensive player and seems to be a solid human. Hopefully he’ll be back and healthy next season.

And maybe – just maybe – the league will get its act together when it comes to these hits.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.