The new NHL recap show on Versus, "Overtime" has not met with great success in the first stages. The ratings are low. The banter, while witty, is boring and over done. Unimpressive would be the word I would use. However, they scored the big get Thursday evening, getting Colin Campbell to answer questions about the email scandal that has opened a deep divide between the NHL brass, with their supporters, and a large group of fans and bloggers who find his actions reprehensible.
What did Campbell have to say? Make the jump for the video, a transcription, and of course, some follow up.
We'll take this one section at a time. I hope you don't mind, I edited out the stammering and searching for the answers. Take a public speaking class, would you, please Mr. Campbell?
OT: We have to talk about those emails written, by you, that were leaked this week. Were they, as Bill Daly said, taken out of context, and if they were, in what context were they intended to be?
CC: Well first of all, you have to understand, these were emails that were collected from five, four, and three years ago, because this case took place three years ago. Everyone knows that we recklessly and aimlessly throw emails together. I didn’t realize three years ago that your normal dressing room talk that you throw in an email was retrievable or that they could take them as evidence in a case. It’s dressing room talk, none were meant to be mean spirited, and the emails that I said, they were taken out of context. For example for someone to compare me saying that Marc Savard is an embellisher, a diver of penalties, and then to say that I might think he was faking in the Cooke hit is totally absurd.
The age of the emails is not important. The words are a basis to establish a lack of impartiality. They could be twenty years old, and it would not change a thing.
"Everyone knows that we recklessly and aimlessly throw emails together." No sir. YOU recklessly and aimlessly throw together emails. The rest of us understand that sending an email to a professional contact is the same as sending a letter or making a phone call to that person. It should be professional in tone and content. The fact that you do not understand this fact shows an inability to reason properly. How would you respond, sir, if I hastily wrote an email to you and did not think through my words before doing so? My guess is it would not be a kind response from you.
You didn't realize that email could be retrieved? What is that? The "I'm an old white guy" defense? Of course they can be retrieved. Did you honestly think that once you hit send, they simply disappeared like some kind of smoke signal? Dear lord, man, the recipient has a record of it, as do you, and as does the ISP on both sides. Welcome to the 21st century. Maybe it's time someone with an understanding of what a mouse is should take over.
It's dressing room talk? In an email to a colleague? You aren't in a dressing room, sir. You are an executive sending an email to someone you oversee. This isn't you and Bob Probert having a beer after the game. This is the Director of Hockey Operations sending an email to the Director of Officiating. Conduct yourself as a professional, or get the hell out of Dodge.
It wasn't meant to be mean spirited? Are you kidding me? You didn't call him an embellisher or a diver. You called him a "little fake artist." How is that not mean spirited? You need to put down your particular brand of Kool-aid and take some lessons in how to stop fooling yourself.
I haven't read anything where anyone said you thought Savard might be faking after the Cooke hit. I have read, and wrote, that your disdain for Savard affected your decision in not suspending Savard. No way you can sell otherwise.
OT: Given your position of power in the league as Director of Hockey Operations, can you understand how an outside observer might question your impartiality in games in which your son Gregory is playing in?
CC: Well, I’d like to say I have that kind of power, but our officials, once the game starts, they’re trained to be neutral. Whether it’s a player of Sidney Crosby’s stature, or Ovechkin’s stature. Wherther it be the New York Rangers or the Philadelphia Flyers or the Nashville Predators or the Edmonton Oilers… our officials call it as they see it.
My promise as the Director of Hockey Operations is it certainly has no influence over how referees call the game regardless of who is playing in the game. Anything we see in the room, guys, goes to our Director of Officiating. Be it Andy VanHelman, Steven Wolkom, be it Terry Gregson. We don’t question officials on calls. Our officials are required to be accountable. As coaches are, as players are, as managers are. We see things, we ask questions.
We get calls from managers and coaches, "What about these calls?" You guys [media] questions calls on a nightly basis. We send those to Terry Gregson, and these guys are accountable. They’re certainly accountable in the rinks with the fans and the players on the ice, but just like players are accountable the next day in the video room, our officials are accountable. There’s no way that, that… I understand the question, but I can tell you it’s an absurd situation for anyone to believe that would be the case.
You do have that kind of power. The officials take their lead from you, and to suggest otherwise is a bald faced lie. They do call it as they see it. However, after being chewed out by Steven Walkom after he got chewed out by you, they are going to begin to see things a bit different, don't you think? You cannot email the Director of Officiating and question calls against your son and expect the refs to see your son the same way the next game.
You don't question your officials? I ask, with all due respect, are you completely intoxicated while saying that? You outright question more than one call in the emails. It is right there in black and white, sir. Have you not read them? Or are you trying your best to convince us that the words you wrote aren't actually what we see on the screen? This is absolutely the worst possible lie you could tell yourself, or us. You don't question the calls? It is unreal how delusional you are.
You understand the question, and yet never answered it. Well done. You have a future as a politician. Your emails clearly show your lack of impartiality in games your son played in. Do you understand how this looks to the media, or not?
OT: With the release of these emails do you feel you owe Marc Savard an apology to clear the air?
CC: At some point in time I’ll sit down with Marc Savard. When Marc first came in the league, I had him as a coach, fresh out of Oshawa. We were together with the New York Rangers, then I was fired and Marc was sent down. So I don’t think that, that… I think Marc liked the fact that I was coaching. I don’t think it’s an apology, I think it’s an explanation that we have to talk about.
Of course you don't think an apology is necessary. You still don't understand that you did something wrong. You have fooled yourself and your bosses that you are guilt free here, and it frightens me to think of how the NHL is being run right now.
OT: Do you have any regrets about what has transpired?
CC: I don’t have any regrets. I think it was unfortunate. Regrets? We’re passionate here, I’m passionate here, we care about the game, and I had no intention of creating anything that someone would think our office would be misdirected or lax in area, so regrets? I don’t know if that’s the right word. The way I watch and work, and the people I work with, I don’t that any certain day I work that I think I have to apologize at the end of the day.
Passion. Ah, yes. The last time I heard you talk about passion, you were justifying over looking a clear elbow to the head of Cal Clutterbuck from Sergei Gonchar. You said that Gonch was simply "playing with passion." You'll forgive me if when you mention "passion" I get a little nervous.
You shouldn't have to apologize at the end of each day, no. However, when you line up multiple violations of trust and decency, you owe at least a few apologies today. The longer it takes you to do so, the worse this situation gets.
Where Are We Now?
No where different than we were two days ago. The only thing that has changed is that Campbell has taken the support from both Bill Daly and Gary Bettman and fashioned it into a giant glass of "I am completely untouchable, so don't even think about hitting me with any follow up questions" flavored Kool aid. He is chugging it by the gallon, and he has himself completely fooled into his view of the situation.
Campbell has so completely convinced himself that what he is saying is actually true, that he has lost any grip he had on reality. He lives in Colie's World now. It's OK, though. He's comfortable there. He can live out his days completely out of touch with the fact that it is 2010, not 1985. He can dream of a time when it was OK to cuss at people in a professional setting, and when you could simply grab any woman you want and give her a big wet kiss. Let the man live in his own world. I have no problem with that.
Until he decides to rejoin the rest of us in the real world, just keep him away from the nuclear launch codes, will you?