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.

Marian Hossa hits 1,000 points, but is he a Hall of Famer?

Chicago Blackhawk Marian Hossa scores on the wraparound

When Marian Hossa scored the 1,000th point of his career Thursday night, my first inclination was to put him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. After all, he already has two Stanley Cups (and possibly more to come) and he’s one of the best two-way players of his era.

Good enough for me. But then again, the Hall of Fame should be for the truly special players, not just the very good ones. And that’s where the decision around Hossa becomes a little more vexing.

Is Hossa a very good player, or truly a great player? As THN senior editor and Hall of Fame expert Brian Costello points out, 1,000 points is now more of a milestone than a Hall of Fame barometer. And there are currently 19 Hall of Fame eligible players who scored 1,000 points during their careers and who are not in the hall. With 466 career goals so far, Hossa is a shoo-in for the 500 mark and that’s where it starts to get a little more interesting. There are only seven players who have scored 500 who are eligible for the Hall of Fame and are not in there. Read more

Fear of failure: NHLers past and present reveal what keeps them up at night

Ken Campbell
Even in his St. Louis heyday, Brett Hull used to fear he'd never score another goal. (Ian Tomlinson/Allsport)

Editor’s note: It’s almost Halloween, so it’s the perfect time to explore the spooky side of hockey. The following story appears in THN’s scariest edition ever: The Fear Issue. Grab a copy on newsstands today or order one here!

Ray Ferraro remembers coming home from practice one day in 1990 and seeing the light on his answering machine blinking. The message was from Ed Johnston, his GM with the Hartford Whalers. Things weren’t going well. It was mid-November and Ferraro had scored only two goals in his first 15 games. He had scored at least 20 goals in each of his five full NHL seasons to that point, including seasons of 41 and 30 goals.

But the blinking light and the message were a clear indication of what was coming and Ferraro knew it. He was getting traded, and before he returned Johnston’s call, he picked up a copy of The Hockey News that was on his kitchen table and began to desperately go through its pages.

“I looked through the league trying to figure out who would want me,” Ferraro recalled, “and I couldn’t come up with anybody.”

Almost a quarter of a century later, Ferraro’s vantage point allows him to see the game from a place where everything seems so easy. As a between-the-benches analyst for TSN, he’s far more comfortable in his abilities as a broadcaster than he ever was as an NHLer. He also has a front-row seat to the fear and uncertainty that can consume players. He can relate on an all-too-familiar level with the scorer who comes back to the bench muttering about a missed opportunity, questioning himself and wondering if this will be the time when he just can’t get out of this slump. He can see the fear in the eyes of the fourth-liners on two-way contracts and aging veterans who are hanging on by their fingertips. The ones who are playing scared are the guys who get rid of the puck as quickly as it lands on their sticks, since you can’t make a mistake if you don’t have the puck. They’re the ones who get it on their stick in the scoring zone, and yet somehow it all blows up.

There’s a lot of fear in the game of hockey. With players bigger, stronger and more physical than ever before, the fear of injury is omnipresent. Those who fight for a living go into every game knowing there’s a chance they’ll get punched in the face with someone’s bare knuckles. It’s not a wonderful way to live. For star players, however, if there’s anyone who should be immune to the fear of their place in the game, it should be them.

But it isn’t always. When Brett Hull was at the height of his talents and challenging Wayne Gretzky’s single-season record for goals, he was on top of the world. You’d think he’d wake up every morning gleefully thinking about how he was going to make some poor goalie’s life miserable that night. He might have had a goal or a hat trick the night before, but rather than brimming with confidence that he’d continue to score, Hull was wracked by insecurity.

“I wake up every day scared to death that I’ll never score again,” Hull said at the time. “I’ve never talked to Wayne (Gretzky) about it and I’ve never heard him mention it, but when he first started, he was so awesome he had to have that inner fear of failure, or he never would have done as well as he did. I can’t even sleep at night sometimes.”

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Eric Gryba on Artem Anisimov: Predatorial headshot or clean hit?

Eric Gryba (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

When people talk about the director of player safety being the most thankless job on the planet, they might want to reference the hit Eric Gryba of the Ottawa Senators put on Artem Anisimov of the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night.

Because that hit epitomizes the rock-and-a-hard-place situation in which Stephane Quintal and his lieutenants often find themselves. If he suspends Gryba for the hit, he comes under fire from those who don’t see anything wrong with it and claim the NHL is trying to take checking out of the game. He allows it to go unpunished and he comes under attack from observers who believe the NHL is being complacent when it comes to making headhunters accountable for their actions.

For the record, Gryba received a match penalty and a game misconduct for the hit, which popped Anisimov’s helmet off before his head struck the ice. He did not return to the game and is out day-to-day with an apparent concussion.

Here’s a look at the hit from two different angles:

I’ve watched this hit numerous times from several angles in slow motion and I still can’t figure out whether or not it deserves a suspension. Do his feet leave the ice? Doesn’t appear so? Is the principle point of contact the head? Looks like a shoulder to chest hit more than anything? Was Gryba headhunting an unsuspecting player? Well, we’ll never know exactly what was going through Gryba’s head during the play, but it certainly doesn’t look like it.

Two things we should keep in mind here. The first is that Gryba is a repeat offender by the NHL’s definition for the suspension he received for his headshot on Lars Eller in the playoffs in 2012. But it’s also important to remember that his status as a repeat offender should, and will, have nothing to do with determining guilt or innocence here. That’s why a person’s criminal past is not allowed to be used as evidence during a trial. Now if he’s deemed to be guilty, then his status of a repeat offender will be held against him.

The second is the extent of the injury. It’s impossible to tell 100 percent whether Anisimov received any damage from the impact of the hit itself, but its indisputable that his bare head hit the ice when he fell. Whether Gryba was headhunting or not, should he be held liable for the fact that Anisimov did not secure his chin strap enough to prevent it from popping off his head upon impact? The answer is, of course, no.

It certainly wouldn’t be outlandish for the NHL to decide to not have a hearing with Gryba for this hit, unlike the in-person hearing it’s going to have with John Moore of the New York Rangers over this hit:

That one will probably earn Moore a six-game suspension. But with the Gryba hit, it’s difficult to determine whether there’s even any recklessness at play here. Was this just a case of a big guy seeing an opportunity to make a hit and making the most of it – nothing wrong with that in anyone’s NHL – or someone who was truly trying to do more than separate his opponent from the puck? When a 6-foot-4, 225-pound guy makes moving contact, sometimes it’s not going to turn out well.

One thing I do know: I wouldn’t want to be occupying Quintal’s chair on this file.

Leon Draisaitl has a chance to be part of the solution in Edmonton this season

Ken Campbell
Leon Draisaitl (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

After seeing what the Edmonton Oilers accomplished in their past four games, it’s tough to argue that the Oilers aren’t actually built better to compete in the Eastern Conference than the West. Their 3-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens Monday night was their fourth straight, all against eastern teams, squads against which their skill and speed comes to the fore without the tight checking and physical play that seems to make them shrink.

This four-game stretch could not have come at a better time for the Oilers, who desperately needed to string some wins together to calm a very, very nervous fan base. And the wins could not have come at a better time for Leon Draisaitl, who will almost certainly appear in his 10th game this season when the Oilers host the Nashville Predators Wednesday night. Read more

Power Rankings: Kings taking regular season seriously (Rest of league: ‘Yikes!’)

Ken Campbell
Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings are blowing their cover. In previous seasons, the Kings never seemed terribly interested in blowing the doors off the NHL during the regular season, instead being content to watch teams raise their division championship and President’s Trophy banners while they hoisted a Stanley Cup pennant.

That’s all changed in 2014-15. The Kings are taking the regular season seriously in the early going and are steamrolling their way through the league. If this keeps up, expect to see them at or near the top of thn.com’s Power Rankings for most of the season. (Last week’s rankings are in parentheses.) Read more

Alberta-bound Carey Price desperately needs a change in western fortunes

Ken Campbell
Carey Price (Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Carey Price may have been a competitive calf roper when he was younger, but as soon as he steps on the ice in Alberta, he plays as though it’s his first rodeo. And if the Montreal Canadiens want to continue their white-hot start to the season, that’s going to have to change in a hurry.

So the most important person on the Montreal Canadiens as they head into a western Canadian road trip in first place in the Eastern Conference might be goaltending coach Stephane Waite. The man who has been most responsible for altering Carey Price’s mental approach to games could have to do some major psychological massaging on Price this week. Read more

‘Doogie’ Hamilton ready to fill the enormous void left by Chara injury

Ken Campbell
Dougie Hamilton (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Shortly after earning the second assist on the Boston Bruins first goal of the evening Saturday night, Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton was referred to as ‘Doogie’ Hamilton by Air Canada Centre public address announcer Andy Frost.

A little bit like Doogie Howser, Doogie Hamilton is something of a child prodigy. All right, that might be a stretch for a 21-year-old kid, but considering he’s already in his third year in the league and due for a big payday next season, we’re prepared to declare him on the fast track. (It also gives us an excuse to run this video.)
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Five bucks more for all the games this season? Who knew?

Ken Campbell
Sportsnet

Full disclosure: I’m a complete luddite. As such, I wish we could have just stopped at CDs and DVDs. I think space travel is a complete waste of valuable money and intellectual resources that could be far better used to, say, eradicate poverty here on Earth, where people actually live. My 15-year-old son does a lot of sighing and gritting of teeth as I fumble through a game of NHL 15 with him.

When the NHL negotiated its 12-year, $5.2 billion landmark deal for the Canadian broadcast rights with Rogers, it was easy to grasp how enormous the deal was, how good it was for the NHL from a financial standpoint and how it would change the viewing landscape in the four-screen universe and all that. I got that.

But that did not prevent me from pushing buttons in frustration and yelling at my television last night as I frantically searched for the Pittsburgh-Detroit game. Heard it was a pretty good game. Kudos to those plucky Red Wings (heh-heh, plucky Red Wings) for scoring twice with their net empty with under three minutes left before winning it in overtime. Boy, it sure looked exciting on the highlights.

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