Violence on the rise in the NHL

Archived from 1998-99 season.

NHL teams

Heads are banging and skulls are cracking this season. Players are getting cross-checked in the face. Is violence in the league on the rise?

Oct. 9
Ruslan Salei
5 games
Slew footing Phoenix's Daniel Briere
Oct. 14
Keith Jones
2 games
Hit to the head of Buffalo's Curtis Brown
Oct. 15
Richard Smehlik
1 game
High-sticking Colorado's Valeri Kamensky
Oct. 19
Turner Stevenson
2 games
Elbowing Buffalo's Dixon Ward
Oct. 21
Rob DiMaio
2 games
Elbowing Phoenix's Dallas Drake
Oct. 23
Denny Lambert
4 games
Slashing Detroit's Kirk Maltby
Oct. 28
Dave Manson
3 games
Elbowing P.J. Axelsson
Nov. 5
Matthew Barnaby
4 games
Blow to the head of Boston's P.J. Axelsson
Nov. 8
Bobby Holik
New Jersey
2 games
Slew footing Forida's Paul Laus
Nov. 12
Enrico Ciccone
Tampa Bay
1 game
Elbowing New York Rangers' Marc Savard
Nov. 13
Sean Brown
3 games
High-sticking Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson
Nov. 14
Reid Simpson
2 games
Throwing water bottle at a fan in game vs. Toronto
Nov. 18
Peter Worrell
3 games
Elbowing Pittsburgh's Alexei Morozov
Nov. 19
Andrei Nazarov
Tampa Bay
7 games
Cross-checking Colorado's Cam Russell
Nov. 20
Richard Zednik
4 games
High-sticking Toronto's Daniil Markov
Nov. 20
Matt Johnson
Los Angeles
12 games
Punching N.Y. Rangers Jeff Beukeboom
It has been a week of violence in the NHL. The league vice president Colin Campbell, who is in charge about disciplinary actions, has handed down seven suspensions in the last ten days.

The offenses vary from Chicago's Reid Simpson tossing a water bottle at an obnoxious fan to Los Angeles' Matt Johnson sucker-punching the Rangers' Jeff Beukeboom unconscious.

"Beukeboom's injury is as bad as it can get," explained New York coach John Muckler. "He's shaken up, his face hit the ice."

This season the league promised to come down hard on dangerous infractions. With so many concussions affecting players around the NHL, especially stars such as Paul Kariya and retired center Pat LaFontaine, something had to be done.

"The league has decided to raise the bar, and that was my mandate," said Campbell. "Competition brings out all kinds of flavors of individuals, retaliation knows no thought processes sometimes. They don't know why, maybe they do, but very seldom do they admit it. They explain why it happened. You don't want to call them a liar. You just say, 'Well, I understand. From my point of view, this is how I see it.'"

This is Campbell's first year on the job. He inherited the position from Brian Burke who is now the general manager of the Vancouver Canucks.

"What interested me most was that there's only one of these jobs out there in the world," said Campbell. "There are 27 coaching jobs now, and it gave me an opportunity to make a difference in the game of hockey, and hopefully a positive difference. Discipline is what gets all the exposure, but there are a lot of other aspects to hockey operations. Over time, we hope to make the game better."

What has been tough for him is adjusting to the time frame of handing discipline in the league.

"I'm beginning to get a handle on the aspect of handling the discipline," he said. "The process was strange. We wanted to be quick with the process and make the decision prior to the team's next game. Well, you have to recover the tape and get a copy of the tape to the NHLPA, make sure they and the GM and player can see the tape, and make sure they're available to talk on the telephone. And sometimes you have to do it in 12 hours. It's a 24-hours-a-day job, because when a GM calls and wants an answer, you have to get back to him within a couple hours."

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