By Stu Hackel
The single most-talked about play in Wednesday night’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was not the great winning goal by Raffi Torres, nor any of the tremendous saves by Tim Thomas or Roberto Luongo, nor some of the big bodychecks thrown in the hotly contested game. No, it was the alleged chomp by Alex Burrows on Patrice Bergeron, which still has Burrows trending on Twitter throughout Canada, in Boston and some other hockey towns in the U.S. the following afternoon.
It is a biting commentary (sorry) on what the public considers most significant about the game. And that includes hockey fans and observers in the media, because when it comes to player conduct, penalties, suspensions, fines and all manner of supplemental discipline in the NHL, we’ve all become pretty obsessed with whether a particular act deserves a particular response and how strong that response should be.
The way discipline has gone in the postseason, it was not expected that Burrows would be suspended, and he wasn’t, even though that sort of nonsense often earns a player few games off during the regular season.
And that brings us to yesterday’s surprise news that Colin Campbell, who had a pretty rough year (see SI.com’s gallery), was stepping away from his task as the NHL’s chief disciplinarian and handing his wristslapper over to Brendan Shanahan beginning next season. The announcement was a surprise even to the league’s executives, who had decided on the change in March but had not planned to make it known until the Board of Governors’ meetings later this month. The NHL went public after Shanahan’s appointment had been leaked to TSN’s Darren Dreger earlier yesterday.