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

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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.