Willie Mitchell talked to the media today, the first time he has done so since Evgeni Malkin rammed him into the boards, gave him a concussion and finished his season.
You’ll notice just after the six-minute mark, Willie starts ripping into Colin Campbell:
I’m not happy with the hit I took. We’re taught from a young age that you don’t hit from behind and I had my numbers facing a player and in a dangerous zone, in a dangerous spot, and he hit me.
More than that, I’m disappointed in the league. I’m disappointed in Colin Campbell. Disappointed that he didn’t rule down anything on the play. That’s his job. As we’ve seen, he’s been very inconsistent with how he’s handled himself in those situations. I think a lot of times he hands down suspensions and fines on the result and I totally think that’s the wrong thing to do. You rob a bank and there’s $50 million dollars in there, you rob a bank and there’s $5 bucks in there, you’re going to jail for the same amount of time. And, you know, he saw me get up off the ice and so he didn’t make a ruling on it.
I want to make this very clear too. I’m not saying this for me. What’s this going to do for me right now? It’s not going to do a thing for me. No one’s going to take back the last four-and-a-half months that I’ve endured and my family’s endured. No one’s going to take that back. Why I’m saying this right now is because my friends in the league and my peers in the league… I don’t want anyone to go through what I just did.
Like I said, the league needs to, along with our player’s union, needs to take a look at how we run discipline in the league. I know Colin Campbell has a lot of relationships with general managers and ownership and stuff like that. Very tough to hand down decisions on matters like this when you’re friends with people. It’s like saying that I’ve got to discipline my teammates. It’s too emotional. You can’t make the right decision all the time. So I think it’s something the league and the players need to look at is to have an outside party handle the discipline in the league, and therefore it’s consistent. As we’ve all seen it hasn’t been very consistent.
Back in the day, players regulated that. That’s changed. We all know that’s changed. Society doesn’t want it, players don’t want it, and it’s not just going to happen anymore. So who has to regulate it? Well, it’s Colin Campbell and he has to regulate it. If he doesn’t do a good job, it’s going to be where the hell it’s been.
I’m glad Willie Mitchell spoke out on this issue. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you already know what I think of the NHL’s standards on officiating and discipline – that is, I don’t believe that there any standards. If more players speak out – remember Mark Recchi also made it pretty obvious after the Matt Cooke/Marc Savard fiasco that he didn’t care much for Colin Campbell – then perhaps the league will start paying more attention. But then again, they could also just keep burying their heads in the sand like they always do.