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NHL Vice-President and Director Of Figuring Out What's A Cheap Shot Colin Campbell must be a good guy because everyone calls him "Coley," just like U.S. V.P. Joe Biden is called 'Bides.' Coley (Colie?) must also be the smartest man in the world because he's one of the few people I've run in to who can speak authoritatively about what people meant to do.

How else could Evgeni Malkin skate without a suspension after Game 2 despite taking an instigator penalty at 19:41 of the third period? Campbell said in deciding against a suspension that the suspensions are applied "when a team attempts to send a message in the last five minutes by having a player instigate a fight. A suspension could also be applied when a player seeks retribution for a prior incident."

Translation: "This guy's one of our stars. Suspend him? You nuts?"

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The NHL has spent the entire playoffs fudging its rules interpretations, while coaches bitch and natter endlessly in post-game and workout day news conferences about officiating. Look: Holding penalties in football are determined largely by reputation. Kevin Youkilis's strike zone is different than Kevin Millar's. Reputations always come into play when decisions are made by on-ice or on-field officials in the heat of the match.

In having Coley (Collie?) interpet rules from the safety of some office - after taking the reading of wind direction and other atmospherics - the NHL looks a little bit like the WWE. But then, this is a league whose talking heads have spent all playoffs debating the definition of a head-shot when most of us would go out on a limb and say "it's a shot to the head, stupid." It's a league that still thinks there's a difference between a deliberate attempt to injure and actually injuring somebody - a league that is so dim it gives away the TV rights to its signature event for nothing but is certain it knows what its coaches and players are thinking in the heat of the moment.

So what's the demarcation point between goon and non-goon, anyhow? One hundred and 25 penalty minutes? Place of birth? Whether or not Don Cherry likes you?







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