Colin Campbell defends e-mails

Updated: November 19, 2010, 10:06 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

NHL vice president Colin Campbell responded on the NHL Network to criticism over e-mails he wrote three years ago.

In the e-mails, Campbell called Bruins center Marc Savard a "faker" and criticized former referee Dean Warren.

Campbell, who is in charge of league discipline, said his comments on Savard "would have been made to any player that dove at the time."

"For anyone to think it was someone faking an injury is wrong," Campbell said in the interview. "I guess the more correct term in a formal environment would have been an embellisher of penalties. So you can use that term loosely and call it a fake artist or a diver.

"For someone to start splicing together e-mails and indicating and assuming things, then again that is an upsetting aspect to this whole scenario."

The e-mails were written a couple of years before Campbell ruled last season on Matt Cooke's hit that left Savard with a concussion he's still recovering from today. Cooke was not suspended.

Campbell said he was especially upset about accusations regarding former referee Warren and his calls against Campbell's son, current Bruins and former Florida Panthers forward Gregory Campbell.

"That might be the most disturbing part of this whole scenario," Campbell said. "That certainly couldn't and wouldn't happen. My e-mails may have indicated I might take offense to penalties like any coach or general manager takes offense to his team.

"We don't exert influence on any referee on how they call a game," Campbell added. "That is certainly an aggravating statement for anyone to make."

Earlier Thursday night on his weekly radio show, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman gave Campbell his "full support."

"Perhaps the most unfortunate of all is that the people making [the comments] have not had the opportunity to observe Colie's professionalism and integrity," Bettman said.

"There's no basis to suggest that anything wrong, unfair, biased was ever done, because nothing inappropriate has happened with respect to supplemental discipline or any of his other duties."

Campbell's e-mails first appeared in court documents from Warren's appeal to the Ontario National Relations Board last year over what he thought was a wrongful dismissal. That appeal was denied in October.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly indicated the league was aware of the e-mails.

"None of this is new to us," Daly told ESPN.com on Monday.

In addition to handing out suspensions and fines, a major part of Campbell's job is watching games and handling complaints from general managers. His duties are suspended when there are incidents involving the Bruins.

"He has no official role whatsoever when it comes to games in which his son is playing," Daly said. "He's not in charge of supplementary discipline for any of those things and he obviously doesn't communicate directly with anybody involved in those games, including the officials."

Campbell told the NHL Network on Thursday that brutal candor was necessary when making decisions.

"We all participate in that kind of candor and discussion and particularly hockey people," Campbell said. "When we are told to straighten up our tie and put our sports jacket on and go in front of the cameras, we become formal.

"We operate with the utmost transparency here. We care about the game, we are passionate. We certainly don't make decisions in a vacuum here."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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