Many voters felt that Campbell's background as an NHL player and coach gave him a better "feel for the job" than Burke, who played college and minor league hockey and was a front-office executive for six years before taking the disciplinarian's job. "Brian was much more visible," said one voter. "Colin tends to be in the background more, but then he gets his message across by his actions." Said another respondent, "Campbell is tougher and more consistent." At week's end Campbell had suspended 47 players for a total of 146 games, in contrast with the 23 who were suspended for 64 games under Burke for the '97-98 season.
Several general managers refused to vote and instead expressed sympathy for both lords of discipline. One front-office type said that the job was hard enough on a guy without him "losing that poll of yours," while another felt that the demands of the position are too heavy to be borne alone. "This job isn't suited for one person," he said. "We need a committee or something."
Words That Make You Groan
Brian Burke and Colin Campbell have more in common than a line on their resumes. They're believed to be the only NHL executives to have suspended a player for something he said. Last week Campbell banned Sharks defenseman Bryan Marchment for one game for calling Canucks forward Donald Brashear, who is African-American, "a big monkey" during an April 3 match. In doing so, Campbell followed the precedent Burke set last season when he suspended Capitals forwards Craig Berube and Chris Simon for hurling insults at black opponents.
Marchment's language was inexcusable. While he says that he employs monkey to refer to all tough guys—of which Bras-hear is certainly one—regardless of their race, Marchment's use of a word so charged with racist implications reveals him to be irresponsible or ignorant, or both.
Ruling on language used on-ice isn't a simple task. Harsh and disrespectful remarks-many of which have ethnic, national or racial content—are common. Punishing players for their words is much more difficult than punishing them for their actions because there's no list of terms and phrases the NHL deems inappropriate. Campbell knew that by suspending Marchment he was taking another step onto what could be a slippery slope. Who's to say what remarks are more offensive than others?
"I'm not comfortable in that position," says Campbell. "I wrestled with the Marchment suspension a long time. At the end of the day I felt good about what I did. We like to think words aren't harmful, but they can be more dangerous than a punch."
Eric Lindros's Injury
Whither the Flyers?
Since the Flyers were swept by the Red Wings in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals, they have been dogged by questions: Is their goaltending good enough? Do they need another scorer? Can they overcome general manager Bob Clarke's numerous coaching and personnel changes? Now comes the most sobering interrogative of all: Can Philadelphia win without Eric Lindros?
At week's end Lindros, the Flyers' captain and best player, was in a Philadelphia hospital recovering from the collapsed lung he suffered on April 1 against the Predators. Lindros was at first unaware of the injury, which is believed to have occurred when he fell on his stick sometime during the game. By the time the collapsed lung was diagnosed, 12 hours later, four pints of blood had seeped into his chest cavity, and he subsequently underwent surgery to remove a large clot that was preventing the lung from fully expanding.