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.

Hitchcock almost certain to be back for another season with the Blues

Ken Campbell
Ken Hitchcock (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s a good chance the St. Louis Blues and Ken Hitchcock will agree on a one-year contract, perhaps as early as sometime this week. This is a situation that might rankle a lot of coaches, given that Mike Babcock just received an eight-year deal to coach the Toronto Maple Leafs. In fact, given that the Blues spoke with Babcock about the possibility of replacing Hitchcock, he might be excused for telling the Blues precisely where they could do with their one-year contract extension.

The public perception has been that the Blues have left their coach twisting in the wind over the past couple of weeks, that he’s their fallback option only if they can’t come up with someone better.

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Is Mark Hunter poised to be next GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Ken Campbell
Mark Hunter  (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

A person who has interviewed for the Toronto Maple Leafs GM job told me Thursday that nothing that unfolded during the Mike Babcock hiring came as a surprise to him. Team president Brendan Shanahan made it clear to this person that the coach was going to be hired before the GM and that the search for a new person to run the hockey department is still very much open.

Shanahan has displayed a unique management style through all of this. Whether it works brilliantly or blows up in his face will be revealed in time. If it does succeed, and it might, it could provide a template for future executives. And that is, find the people you want first and worry about job titles later. Read more

Good luck with the Maple Leafs, Mike Babcock, you’re going to need it

Ken Campbell
Mike Babcock Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

After all of Brendan Shanahan’s bluster about doing things the right way, about conducting a proper, methodical and ultimately successful rebuild, the Toronto Maple Leafs went out and were your father’s Toronto Maple Leafs. They got the big fish, won the press conference and made a larger splash than Kiska, the killer whale at Marineland.

For $6.25 million a year for the next eight years, they got Mike Babcock, the best coach and the most sought-after free agent coach in the game’s history. He’s also a man who has won one Stanley Cup in the last decade with an organization that strives for excellence, and who has won Olympic gold medals for the country that produces the best players on the planet and designates more resources to the game than all the other countries combined. He’s a coach whose teams have lost in the first round two of the past three seasons despite having Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg on the roster.

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Should Don Sweeney consider trading Bruins captain Zdeno Chara?

Ken Campbell
Zdeno Chara Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

At first blush, the hiring of a guy like Don Sweeney by the Boston Bruins doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. After all, will the new boss be really all that different than the old boss. Sweeney has worked in the Bruins front office for almost a decade, the last six of them as the assistant to deposed former GM Peter Chiarelli. Presumably, he was an integral part of the decision making team that got the Bruins in this situation in the first place.

Well, thank you Brian MacLellan for smashing that particular notion. MacLellan was part of the Washington Capitals front office for even longer than Sweeney has been a part of Boston’s before he was named as George McPhee’s replacement almost a year ago. And all MacLellan did was distance himself from the former regime by making a big splash with his coach and in free agency and took the Capitals in a bold new direction.

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Union president undeterred by Washington bill making WHL players amateurs

Ken Campbell
Jerry Dias  (David Cooper/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The president of Canada’s largest public sector trade union, one that is attempting to get junior hockey players unionized, called the recent bill in Washington State rendering WHL players as amateur athletes and not employees “ridiculous,” and claimed it will not deter efforts to give major junior players collective bargaining rights in Canada.

“Obviously I can’t do anything in Canada, but I’m disappointed by it,” said Jerry Dias, president of Unifor. “But that’s not going to stop what it is we’re doing here in Canada. There’s no question the case here in Canada is significantly stronger. We think we’re in very good shape here in Canada.”

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Call them hockey players or amateurs, but don’t call them employees

Ken Campbell
Gatineau Olympiques (Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

So according to Senate Bill 5893, teenagers who play for the Everett Silvertips, Seattle Thunderbirds, Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans are forever to be deemed amateur athletes, not employees.

And in what was effectively sticking up their middle finger to those who are trying to unionize players in the Canadian Hockey League, WHL president Ron Robison and representatives from the four Washington-based team in the league were on hand Monday afternoon, beaming with pride as Washington governor Jay Inlsee officially signed the bill into law.

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Defensive juggernaut Generals win OHL championship, show team game can beat superstars

Ken Campbell
The Oshawa Generals celebrate their J. Ross Robertson Cup victory. (Steve Russell/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

OSHAWA – Twenty-five years and two days ago, the Oshawa Generals won their last Memorial Cup with a star-studded lineup that included future NHL superstar Eric Lindros. And while they won’t be going to the Memorial Cup as a bunch of no-names – after all, Martin Brodeur’s kid is their backup goalie – any resemblance between this year’s Generals and the one that won it all a quarter of a century ago is coincidental.

This is a team that won the OHL championship – with a 6-2 win over the Connor McDavid-led Erie Otters Friday night – on the dint of sheer determination, unwavering focus on the defensive side of the game and a boatload of opportunism. The old adage that defense wins championships was never more apropos than it was in this series.

“We were overlooked because a lot of teams scored more goal than we did,” said Generals coach D.J. Smith. “It takes a lot of people to buy into playing defense like that, a lot of unsung heroes. But at the end of the day, I think they’re happy.” Read more

Erie, McDavid lose OHL final as junior hockey says goodbye to an all-time great

Ken Campbell
Connor McDavid  (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)

OSHAWA – Shortly after receiving the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the most valuable player in the OHL playoffs, Connor McDavid walked off the ice, placed the trophy on two stacked milk crates, and trudged off to the Erie Otters dressing room. And so ended one of the greatest careers in the history of the OHL, if not junior hockey. With a whimper, not a bang.

From the time McDavid gained entry into the OHL as an exceptional player, he has been a rock star, super star and scoring star. He carried the Otters on his back throughout the playoffs, but in the end, could not will his team to victory over the blanket coverage foisted upon him by the Oshawa Generals during the league final. As special a talent as McDavid has been and will be, he simply could not negotiate his way through the red sea of Generals sweaters on his own. Read more