Vancouver Writer Tony Gallagher Launches Ill-Researched Conspiracy Regarding Bruins, Officiating for Stanley Cup Final


May 31, 2011

Vancouver Writer Tony Gallagher Launches Ill-Researched Conspiracy Regarding Bruins, Officiating for Stanley Cup Final Colin Campbell is the senior vice president and director of hockey operations for the National Hockey League.

Gregory Campbell is a fourth-line center on the Boston Bruins. He’s also Colin’s son.

Everybody knows this.

Yet, despite it being common knowledge, one writer from Vancouver is trying to use the “information” to suggest the Bruins will get favorable treatment from the referees during the Stanley Cup Final.

In a Sunday column for British Columbia newspaper The Province, Tony Gallagher implies that the on-ice officials will be affected by the fact that their boss is Colin Campbell, whose son, as everybody knows, will be playing ice hockey for the Bruins. Gallagher says this is a very big problem.

Gallagher presents the following facts: Referees make $18,000 more for every round they work in the playoffs, while linesmen make an extra $12,000.

The facts, however, end there.

The rest is a list of assumptions that appear to have been reached by using the Jump to Conclusions Mat.

Gallagher says that referees would fear for their jobs if they were to displease their boss. He says they will upset their boss by doing their job well, so it’s a rather flimsy argument.

The most egregious statement, though, came when discussing the lack of penalties in the Bruins’ Game 7 win over Tampa Bay. The Bruins are markedly better playing 5-on-5 hockey, and their power play (and recently their penalty kill, too) has struggled mightily. Again, everybody knows this.

The fact that there were no penalties called in Game 7, Gallagher claims, has more to do with some grand conspiracy than it does reality.

“Now take what could be construed as an advantage given to the Bruins in Game 7 of their series with Tampa. We’re not saying it was, but it’s an odd coincidence,” he not-so-boldly claims. “How can a game as intense as any Game 7 must inevitably be result in no penalties? Heavens, in some games you take a deep breath and it’s a penalty. Yet in this one … nothing. … Who benefits from no calls?”

To this, I’d ask Gallagher to find a DVD of the game and find specific instances where penalties should have — or even could have — been called. Find a missed high stick, a hook, an interference penalty — anything. Take the time to watch the video, call some Tampa players and coaches and ask them if they felt they got “a fair shake” from the officials. Then, if you have something, write a story. Don’t assume that because there weren’t any penalties called that the officials were feeling immense pressure from above to not screw anything up.

And whatever you do, don’t go on to use the weakest two lines that any person could ever use in argument — “Just saying.” But, well, that’s pretty much what you did.

“The final is going to be the same situation,” Gallagher stated as plain fact. “The Canucks’ special teams are great. Will the officials swallow their whistles as they did in Game 7? Just asking.”

And how about this — rather than rile up a Vancouver fan base that is almost assuredly too smart to fall for this nonsense, why not do five minutes’ worth of research? You might find out that:

  • The Bruins have been given 211 penalty minutes this postseason. Their opponents have been given 180 penalty minutes.
  • In Game 7 against Montreal, the Bruins were whistled for four minor penalties; the Canadiens, just two. Did Colin Campbell not care who won that game? Just asking.
  • The Bruins were the more-penalized team in both the Montreal and Tampa Bay series, and the Philadelphia series was close to even, with the Flyers getting 59 penalty minutes and the Bruins getting 55.
  • Milan Lucic, the Bruins’ leading goal scorer during the regular season, was kicked out of Game 6 against Montreal early in the second period on a borderline boarding call. Could he have helped the Bruins clinch that series? Just asking.

But, as is clearly the case, facts just don’t support Gallagher’s case. Those pesky facts always seem to get in the way of a good “just saying” argument.

Now, none of this is not to say that Colin Campbell is some almighty savior of ice hockey. The city of Boston has had plenty of gripes with him over the years, from a failure to punish Matt Cooke for his devastating hit on Marc Savard, to the exposed emails criticizing Savard to several instances of a perceived lack of justice regarding supplemental discipline. Colin Campbell is not revered as a hero in Boston.

But to claim that the Stanley Cup Final — one of the greatest events in all sports — won’t be enjoyable, and to back that up with only, “What father doesn’t want to have his son’s name on the Stanley Cup?” To base an entire column based on a hunch, or a feeling, and nothing concrete? That’s just irresponsible. It’s also ludicrous. You do realize that, Mr. Gallagher, don’t you?

Just asking.

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