Ken Campbell

Ken Campbell, The Hockey News' senior writer, is in his second tour with the brand after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native once tried out for the Ontario League's Wolves as a 30-year-old. Needless to say, it didn't work out.

Why Martin St-Louis doesn’t deserve the Lady Byng

Ken Campbell
st-louis

For Ryan O’Reilly to be passed over for the Lady Byng Trophy this season would require members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association to blunder almost as badly as they did last year when they made Alexander Ovechkin an first-team all-star at both left and right wing.

O’Reilly plays big minutes – 24th in the league in 5-on-5 ice time per game – against the opponents’ best lines and led the league in takeaways, all the while only getting two penalty minutes this season. In his 72nd game, he broke his stick on a faceoff against Logan Couture and kicked the puck back to his defenseman before being called for playing with a broken stick. O’Reilly led his team in goals, logged more ice time than any other forward on the team and manages to get the puck away from his opponents without going on the wrong side of the rulebook. Read more

Why the Boston Bruins will win the 2014 Stanley Cup…and I’ll be poorer for it

Ken Campbell
(Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

When the Boston Bruins qualified for the Stanley Cup final in 2011, I managed to purchase tickets for Games 3 and 4 for Wayne McDonald. He’s my brother-in-law, but not in that “worthless brother-in-law” sort of way. Good guy, accountant in Sudbury, does my taxes every year. And he’s a lover of everything Bruins. I’ll never forget him outside the TD Garden that June night before Game 3, acting like a little kid. “Except for when I got married and my kids were born, this is the best day of my life!” he said.

I mention this story because I paid for the tickets. Figured it was appropriate payback for all those years of doing my taxes for nothing. But with the B’s looking primed to go to the Cup for the third time in four years, I’m beginning to wonder who’s getting the better of this deal.

It’s easy to pick a team to win the Stanley Cup when it’s coming off a 12-game winning streak, the way the Bruins did in March. But there’s more to it than that. The Bruins are the class of the East and will have an easier road to the final than say, about, oh, any one of the eight teams in the West. In the past five years, the Bruins have averaged more than 15 playoff games a year and lead the league with 78 games in that span.

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World’s largest minor hockey league takes on hitting, finances

Ken Campbell
bodychecking photo

The biggest minor hockey league in the world will likely begin to progressively eliminate bodychecking at all age levels of its lowest elite age group by the 2015-16 season. All of which means players who play at the ‘A’ level of the Greater Toronto Hockey League will be able to play a reasonably high level of competitive hockey without worrying about body contact.

The GTHL recently conducted an expansive survey on the matter asking players, coaches and officials whether they wanted bodychecking removed from all age levels of ‘A’ hockey and 64.3 percent of the 4,000 who responded said they want it removed. Currently, there is no bodychecking in any competitive bracket of any age level from peewee (12 years old) and below anywhere in Canada. The GTHL move would eliminate body contact at all age levels for the ‘A’ bracket, but bodychecking would continue at the more competitive ‘AA’ and ‘AAA’ levels. Read more

Fleury, Price just good enough to win Game 1

Price save

Let’s get one thing out of the way right away. If the four teams in the Eastern Conference play throughout the playoffs the way they did on the first night of the post-season, none of them will be around beyond the second round.

It was a night where all the playoff rules were broken, but also one in a couple of hockey’s age-old axioms held true. The notion that defense and goaltending rule in the playoffs went out the window very early in both the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 overtime win over Tampa Bay and the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The age-old theory that scoring dries up in the playoffs also made a hasty retreat.

But, hey, it’s the Eastern Conference. If you’re looking for masterpiece games from a defensive standpoint, take your complaints to Dave King. If you seek actual entertainment, intensity and some pretty damn compelling hockey, don’t take your eyeballs off the screen for a second.

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My playoff bracket and NHL Awards ballot

Ken Campbell
Boston celly

With all due respect to Andy Williams and, well Christmas, we all know that this really is the most wonderful time of the year. For hockey fans, there is no better two weeks on the calendar than the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The pace is frenetic. There are always a couple of shocking upsets. Overtime games abound. Pacing yourself and dealing with little sleep, particularly on the nights when the San Jose Sharks and Los Angeles Kings play, is paramount.

When the league came up with its current playoff format that puts more of an emphasis on divisional play and geographical rivalries, this is exactly what it had in mind. And I wouldn’t be surprised if NHL chief operating officer John Collins, the marketing genius who has transformed the league into a big-time, event-driven cash cow, wasn’t in on the planning.

Because what the NHL has done has taken a page from March Madness with its new playoff bracket system. Who had ever heard of a playoff bracket before this season? Prior to this spring, doing playoff brackets were too unwieldy because you always had to wait until the rounds were over to untangle the seedings and move on to the next round. Now it’s nice and tidy. We know that regardless of upsets, the winner of the Boston-Detroit series will play the winner of the Montreal-Tampa first round set, and so it goes.

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Coming soon to an NHL team near you: This man

Ken Campbell
Jeff Blashill

Jeff Blashill and Jon Cooper are really close friends and it will only be a matter of time before they’re both living out their dreams as NHL coaches. You know all about Cooper now that he’s working his magic with the Tampa Bay Lightning. And sooner or later, you’ll learn about Blashill, who was named the American League’s coach of the year for his work with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

It may not be this summer, but Blashill will be an NHL coach very soon. And who knows? With all the coaching opportunities that figure to be opening up this summer, perhaps someone will take a chance on a 40-something AHL coach of the year and Calder Cup winner, the way the Tampa Bay Lightning did with Cooper. It’s not without its precedent. Since 2009, Cooper, Guy Boucher and Scott Arniel went directly from being AHL coach of the year to the head man behind an NHL bench.

“Personally, I think he needs another year or two to get more of a base of experience,” said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland, who hired Blashill as an assistant in Detroit before making him the Griffins head coach in 2012-13. “But I think he’s an NHL coach in the making, there’s no doubt about that.”

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Barry Trotz should be next coach of Toronto Maple Leafs

Ken Campbell
Barry Trotz

Talk about the luck of the Irish. On his first day on the job, Brendan Shanahan was handed a gift in the form of Barry Trotz being fired by the Nashville Predators.

And there is no move that Shanahan, the new president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, could make that would create as much excitement and give this team the boost it so desperately needs than to fire current coach Randy Carlyle and replace him with Trotz. It’s been speculated that Shanahan had his eye on Peter DeBoer, but the New Jersey Devils coach still has a year on his contract and will soon sign an extension. John Tortorella if he loses his job in Vancouver? Well, this crew of defensive misfits could do worse, but that might just be a little too toxic.

The Nashville Predators decided not to renew Trotz’s contract because it was time for a new voice. With 1,196 games and just two playoff series victories to his credit, Trotz cannot say he is being hard done by in losing his job. Hockey is a results-oriented business and the tandem of GM David Poile and Trotz did not deliver.

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Shanahan + Linden = zero experience

Ken Campbell
Shanny and Linden

For those of you keeping score, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks have just handed the keys to their kingdoms to two men who have – just a second while we add it up – um, zero experience at their new positions.

So in hiring Brendan Shanahan as their president and Trevor Linden as their president of hockey operations, the Leafs and Canucks have accomplished absolutely nothing to this point aside from winning the news conference. And if that was the intention here, to try to assuage the fan base by hiring a big-name personality, it runs the risk of providing them with nothing more than more of the same. Read more