Morning Skate 421: Campbell trying to do right

Morning Skate 421: Campbell trying to do right

By JoeHaggerty

MONTREAL Gregory Campbell admitted that hed received a text message from a friend about his dads rant on TSN Radio when approached about it after todays morning skate, but he hadnt yet heard it for himself.The Bs fourth line center has heard it all before, though. He knows the kind of exhausting scrutiny and high pressure his father Colin is under as the Vice President of Hockey Operations and sheriff when it comes to supplemental discipline in the NHL for borderline hits and dangerous play.People think its an easy job, but its something he puts so much time into and works extremely hard at it, said the younger Campbell of his fathers responsibilities within the league Doing the right thing means a lot to him, and thats how hes always approached it.The elder Campbell was appearing on TSN Radio 1050 Wednesday night to discuss the latest round of controversies with TSN host James Cybulski, and it quickly turned into a Colin Campbell rant directed at the second guessers and press box hecklers. The latest wave of criticism arrived on Campbells doorstep when he opted not to suspend CanucksruffianRaffi Torres for a punishing hit behind the net on Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook a shot toward the head that some felt was a hard, playoff hockey play.Others felt was an obvious shot to Seabrooks head.Not too difficult to discern which side Campbell is on after deeming there was no need for supplemental discipline."Thankless job? Yeah, it's thankless," said the elder Campbell. "Especially at this time of year when there's so much at play here with the playoffs and cities are involved. When you rule on certain situations, all of a sudden you become public enemy No. 1 so ... Am I pissed off right now? Yeah, I'm pissed off.""I don't make up this stuff as I go along. We do lots of work on this. We send out lots of videos. You think I want to do the popular thing here? I don't get paid to do the popular thing. I don't get paid to do the easy thing to do.Campbell slammed the radio hosts pretty hard when he presented them with the David Steckel hit on Sidney Crosby during the Winter Classic a hit that resulted in a concussion thats kept Crosby out for the rest of the season and playoffs. Campbell asked both radio hosts if they felt the hit was dirty, and then lambasted them when they termed Steckels hit as borderline. "You guys are crazy when you say that," Campbell said. "What do you want to do to the game? You're nuts. There are some hits out there that we don't like, but ... Come on, you guys. You can't say that was dirty, you guys. ... You can't say that hit was dirty or you guys don't watch hockey."I've got a responsibility to try and protect players from other players in the game of hockey but yet keep the physicality in the game. To keep jobs like your jobseveryone's jobs. The game supplies a lot of jobs. That's what's thankless about this job. You try to do the right thing, you try to keep physicality in the game. You guys think that I enjoy hearing everybody saying Torres should have been suspended? Well, that would have been the easy thing to do. If they want to go forward and say that type of hit or all head hits should be suspended, maybe this job will be easier. But I don't think so.Say what you want about Campbell in individual cases, but the guy clearly feels passionately about his job and doing the right thing to protect players and the game of hockey at the same.Perfect hes not, but he seems to be trying.On to the links:A great story by ESPN.coms Wayne Drehs on game-winning puck from last years Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory, and the complete mystery of its whereabouts one year later. Has anybody called Doug Mientkiewicz?TSNs Darren Dreger says former Bruins player Craig MacTavish is looking for an NHL coaching job after sitting out the last two seasons following his dismissal from the Edmonton Oilers.FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dave Lozo talks with New York Rangers sniper Marian Gaborik after he severely screwed the pooch in overtime on Wednesday night.Tom Glavine is interested in putting an ownership group together to keep the Atlanta Thrashers in Georgia. Hed better hurry up before they end up in Winnipeg or Quebec City. Heres a good look by the Hockey News at the hockey connection the Billerica native has after being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings way back in 1984.Chicago goon John Scott certainly has a lot to say for a hockey player that doesnt actuallyyou knowplay all that often. This time hes chirping with Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.An interesting look at the players potentially available via restricted free agency this summer, and sparking plenty of chatter about offer sheets according to Spector.Heres the actual audio of Colin Campbell going a little mad during a hockey discussion with TSN 1050.Brian Gionta has earned his captaincy with the Montreal Canadiens, and is playing like the leader hes already been at Boston College and in New Jersey.The Ottawa Senators are in no rush to hire a head coach according to the Ottawa Citizen, which is probably a good thing since nobody is in a rush to go there with such a long rebuild road ahead of them.A really nice look at the Sedin Twins by the Wall Street Journal, and bonus points for doing the wholeWonder Twins activate thing when it comes to the Vancouver superstars.Joe Haggerty can be reached at Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Time for a tough transition


Time for a tough transition

This is the fifth and final installment of a five-part series about the breakdowns that doomed the team this season, and what must change for the Black and Gold to once again get moving in the right direction. 

Casual Bruins fans probably thought they were getting a Shawn Thornton-type player when Boston traded a third-round pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for Zac Rinaldo last summer.

Instead it was a deal that was a win in the ledger of Flyers GM Ron Hextall from the very second it was approved by the NHL’s central registry. Hardcore hockey fans knew the Bruins-Rinaldo marriage had little chance of ever working out.

Rinaldo is a physical player who likes to wildly throw the body around. He has above-average skating ability and is fearless, as evidenced by the much bigger, stronger players he tangles with on a regular basis. But there's no comparison between a cheap-shot artist like Rinaldo and a genuine enforcer like Thornton, who struck a tone of intimidation with opponents whenever he was in the Bruins lineup. Thornton gave the B's an air of toughness and courage, and was one of the unquestioned leaders in the dressing room, able to command both respect and accountability.

Thornton's final year in Boston wasn’t without its challenges, given the lengthy suspension he received for knocking out Brooks Orpik at center ice and the needless water-bottle-spraying incident with P.K. Subban in that season's playoffs. But one thing is certain: Thornton would never have watched Adam McQuaid get train-wrecked from behind on a dirty hit by Washington’s Zach Sill, and then simply skate to the bench. That, however, was the reaction of Rinaldo when Sill hit McQuaid this season.

Rinaldo explained his non-actions by saying he was tired at the end of his shift and wary of getting in trouble with the league. He left it to Patrice Bergeron to grab hold of Sill, even though that sort of retaliation is exactly what the Bruins were expecting from Rinaldo when they brought him to Boston in the first place.

It was similar to the hesitation 6-foot-6 Jimmy Hayes showed at times as the opposition pushed around his linemates, or took runs at other Bruins players while he was on the ice. Hopefully Hayes learned that he needs to knock that indecision out of his game if he’s going to be effective here.

But it all speaks to a bigger issue: The change in the makeup of the Bruins, and the need to get back to a tougher, more intimidating style of play.

During their seven-year playoff run, the Bruins earned a reputation as one of the hardest teams to play against in the NHL. Players like Thornton, McQuaid, Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk had size and strength, and were hard-hitting and tough when it was called for.

Very few teams messed with the Bruins. If they did, there was a good chance it would explode into a back-alley brawl . . . like the night when virtually all the Bruins went to war with Sean Avery, Steve Ott and the rest of the Dallas Stars:

It didn’t matter how those teammates felt about each other off the ice. It was no secret that Ference and Mark Recchi had their differences early in their time in Boston, stemming from things that were happening within the NHLPA. But that didn’t stop Ference from jumping to Recchi’s defense when he got smashed in the open ice by David Backes:

That should be the standard for any Bruins team when opponents start to take cheap shots, simply because it makes the B's much more difficult to handle. There were too many nights last season when the Bruins simply didn’t want to battle out on the ice. Not coincidentally, there were also too many nights when they buckled under the bright spotlights of big games.

"We’ve shown some positive stretches and things that we’ve done well . . . " said Chara. "But when times were [there] to fold up or respond, we always kind of find ourselves taking steps backwards. That was one of the things that was disappointing, and frustrating."

Those things might happen a little less if they returned to the previous standard of intensity, engagement and urgency.

That might be easier said than done, but it all starts with the players the Bruins are bringing into the fold.

Matt Beleskey is a prime example of a callback to those previous B’s teams: The kind of hard-hitting, high-energy gamer who would have fit in perfectly with the Stanley Cup-era squads. While the Bruins seemingly missed on Hayes and Rinaldo, they hit -- in the best way -- with the free-agent signing of the hard-nosed, no-nonsense Beleskey. He changed momentum in games with massive hits thrown on the ice, led the club in registered hits last season, and showed up in many of last season’s big-game disappointments when so many others did not.

The Bruins simply need more players like Beleskey, and who preferably can also play the game at a similarly high, or even higher, level. 

Torey Krug is often the smallest guy on the ice, but never stops fighting against XXL-sized opponents while refusing to give in on any level. He even dropped the gloves with the massive Chris Stewart, the very definition of courage (with perhaps a little insanity thrown in for good measure).

Noel Acciari is another young player who energized the fourth line toward the end of the regular season with his fearless style of play. He's unafraid to throw violent but clean hits against even the biggest of opponents while bringing energy and thump to the lineup. He didn’t quite get the hang of the offensive game at the NHL level during his brief audition, but the hope is that will change with a little more experience.

Players like Beleskey and Acciari speak to the Bruins’ acknowledgement that regaining their traditional identity is important, and it’s something they did intermittently last season.

“I still think we have room to improve in that area," said president Cam Neely. "I believe the group [last year] was a closer group; they enjoyed playing for each other and working hard for each other. I thought . . . aside from a couple stretches, we were a team that showed more passion probably than the year prior. But it’s still an area we need to improve upon.”

Most importantly for Neely, general manager Don Sweeney, coach Claude Julien and the Jacobs' ownership group is the need to understand how important their fan base feels about that style of play. The loyal Bruins followes can forgive quite a bit if they feel their team is hustling, working hard and fighting for each other at every turn.

That’s the bare minimum the Bruins should be striving for next season. A lot of good things could start happening if they get back to those basics. 

GAHS Podcast: Felger 'fearful' of where Bruins are headed


GAHS Podcast: Felger 'fearful' of where Bruins are headed

In an all-CSN edition in the 15th episode of the Great American Hockey Show Podcast as co-hosts Joe Haggerty and Jimmy Murphy welcomed SportsNet Central anchor Mike Giardi to discuss the current B’s situation and conducted a wide-ranging interview with Sports Tonight host and Felger and Mazz co-host Michael Felger about his time covering the Bruins as a beat reporter, where he developed his love for hockey and his pathway toward becoming the most influential figure in the Boston sports media scene.

Perhaps most interesting from Giardi’s segment was his take that “nobody should be untouchable” on the Bruins roster, that includes franchise player and future captain Patrice Bergeron, if the return is good enough. Felger discussed who he’d move between Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask to change up the Bruins roster this summer and how gravely concerned he is about the health and well-being of the franchise coming off two seasons out of the playoffs.

“I’m fearful, of course. I think the passion of the Bruins fan base is still there. We could do four hours on the radio tomorrow talking about the Bruins, and totally bang it out with callers,” said Felger. “So the Bruins are so lucky that the fans are that passionate. But if it’s too long of a drought, we all lived through 2005 and 2006 coming out of the lockout. It was dark, and we have the capacity to go back there.”

For the full Great American Hockey Show podcast check it out below: