"If I hadn't gotten out of college when times were so bad, I'm sure I never would have gotten here. The rest of my class had the benefit of three years of prosperity before the Depression. I didn't because you see I took this scholarship and...."
Would this scholarship be a Rhodes?
"Yes, it would. I came back from Oxford at 24 with four degrees, but the best job I could get was $75 a month. But I got a job refereeing in Alberta at $5 a game. Pretty good. Yes sir, pretty good for a fellow making $75 a month. You see, I wasn't ever much good at hockey, but I was good enough to play European hockey. I was the captain at Oxford two years, and when we got knocked out in this tournament in Switzerland, they needed someone to referee and invited me to. It was purely on an ad hoc basis, no rewards. But they gave me an enormous bundle of roses—for Chris-sake, there must have been 50. For doing a fine job—so they said, anyway.
"When I finally got into refereeing in the NHL, it was great because I was still practicing law, and this was a real door opener. Being a referee has been enormously valuable to me here. As a referee, you condition yourself to accept criticism. You learn to live in an atmosphere of hostility. As a commissioner, you're almost like an official. From the start everything is against you, and you better understand that. The owners are enormously jealous of your power. I'm always fighting one or the other of them, but that's O.K. so long as you're not fighting the same guy constantly.
"My time in the Army affected me, too. If you want to run a really effective operation, you can't have more than three echelons of staff. We have 13 people, and everybody must learn his boss' job. Mrs. Turriff, my secretary, Mrs. Hilda Turriff, she could run this league for two years and nobody would know I was gone. She's been here 19 years and never missed half a day. I married my first secretary after nine years. I learned to appreciate her values as well as her shortcomings.
"I went into the war as a private at 34 years old. After it was over, I stayed in to help with the war trials. Now please, don't say I was at N�rnberg. There were other trials. I was never near that damn place. It was while I was still over there that I first started to hear from Red Dutton, who was running the league then, about being his assistant. Well, we finally worked it out and I came in the Tuesday morning after Labor Day. Yes, '46.
"When Red got to the office, we hardly had time to shake hands before we had to go to the Windsor Hotel for a league meeting. As we were walking out of here across Dominion Square, Red turned and said, 'By the way, when we get over there, I'm going to resign and recommend you for president of the league.' That was the first I heard of it, or anybody did for that matter. So they voted on it and raised my salary from $7,500 to $10,000, and put me in charge.
"Since I was over 40 and it seemed about the last chance I'd have to start something new, I asked for two years' income guaranteed, which would enable me to have the time to rehabilitate myself at something else if they let me go. I'm pretty adaptable. I'm pragmatic. There's nothing romantic about me."
Campbell's office is much the smallest among his peers. It is a simple, unpretentious place, as might be expected of a commissioner who never even had his own living quarters until he married Phyllis King in '55; he just roomed with a family up in Mount Royal. His office walls are splattered with pictures of odd shapes and subjects. Campbell has two desks joined in an L, and each is covered with litter. On his No. 1 desk he has a stack of reading material almost two feet high.
"Since 1967," he says, "I've also kept an office in my apartment, which is about a mile from here; nearly all the day-to-day business is done on the telephone anyway. Our paper is primarily confirmatory, so I can do a lot at home. I'm not much of a holiday guy. My idea of a vacation is just to get anywhere away from the telephone. The last three years have practically knocked me out. The litigation. Why, litigation takes up 75% of my time. Seventy-five percent! Seldom do any of us get out of here before 11. But this job is my hobby. A lot of people think I'm a queer for working the way I do, but the greatest single factor in my life has always been the work ethic. I never remember being inactive.