A New Approach?
Perhaps it's time for the NHL to look at a new way of doing things when it comes to supplementary discipline.
Perhaps the time is right for Gary Bettman to take centre stage, to become the man who makes these tough hockey decisions and puts his reputation on the line.
David Stern does it in the NBA. Roger Goodell was the one who banned Michael Vick and has to deal with trouble in the NFL when suspensions are required. Heck, Mark Cohon, every once in a while, at least tries to look like he's running the CFL show when something bad happens on the field.
But not Bettman. Whether it was Brian Burke or Colin Campbell, Bettman has preferred to stay in the background, just as was the case when Brian O'Neill dealt with supplementary discipline under John Ziegler.
But it wasn't always this way. Clarence Campbell, you'll recall, was the NHL president who suspended Rocket Richard. There's no particular rule that says the commissioner (formerly president) can't be the one who makes the call on big suspensions. In fact, when it came to Dale Hunter's hit on Pierre Turgeon years ago, Bettman did make the decision.
So why not step up now on a full-time basis? Colie Campbell, somewhat unfairly, is being trashed on a daily basis for his decisions, just as has been the case for years, even though its pretty clear Bettman and others have influence on those decisions.
The current system isn't working. Players don't seem happy, GMs and coaches don't see the logic and fans are completely confused.
If Bettman really is the caretaker of the league, then this could be the time he stands up and takes on the toughest job.
There will always be those who will say he isn't a hockey man, never played in the league.
Well Stern didn't dunk in the NBA and Goodell never played left tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bettman didn't skate anywhere for anyone. But since everyone seems happy to criticize the every move of Campbell, who played and coached in the NHL for years, it's hard to imagine it could be worse for the NHL commissioner.