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.

What have we all learned from the Patrick Kane affair?

Ken Campbell
Patrick Kane  (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Is it possible that Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita could have been more emphatic in stating that the People of the State of New York had no case in the Patrick Kane rape allegation? Methinks not.

“The totality of the credible evidence – the proof – does not sufficiently substantiate the complainant’s allegation that she was raped by Patrick Kane,” Sedita wrote Thursday in a statement, “and this so-called ‘case’ is rife with reasonable doubt.”

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How the Winnipeg Jets are bucking analytics…and winning

Ken Campbell
Alexander Burmistrov goal (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

The way the Winnipeg Jets play the game is not supposed to be a winning formula. Just ask the analytics community. What has developed into conventional wisdom states that in order to have success, teams have to enter the offensive zone with possession of the puck. Chip and chase is supposed to be dead.

Except it’s not entirely and the Jets are a good example of that. You watch the Montreal Canadiens play and they are now entering the zone with the puck because they’re a team that’s built for success playing that way. But sometimes you watch the Jets and you’d swear it was throwback night to the early 2000s.

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McDavid injury opens Calder race up to late-bloomers

Colton Parayko (Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images)

As Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli said in his news conference to update the Connor McDavid injury, when you’re talking about plates and screws, the news isn’t really good. And when you talk about months, and stress the plural as Peter Chiarelli did, well you can understand why Chiarelli looked so grim.

But let’s say McDavid is a quick healer and misses eight weeks with his broken clavicle, the same way Patrick Kane did last season. That would put him back in Edmonton Oilers lineup in the New Year. It would mean he’d miss 26 games and essentially destroy his chances of winning the Calder Trophy.

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James Reimer opens door to No. 1 job – now he has to kick it down

Ken Campbell
James Reimer (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock seemed a little wary about heaping too much credit upon his goaltender after watching his team give up a season-high 44 shots and still win the game Monday night. Babcock has not been around long, but he appears to have fully bought into the notion that Blue & White Disease is still very alive and well and probably doesn’t want James Reimer coming down with a case of it when he faces the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday night.

But sometimes there are enormous things in the tiniest sound bites and snippets of information. And Babcock let out a doozy when he talked about the goaltending his team received from Jonathan Bernier, to whom we’ll refer as the understudy for the moment, in a loss to Pittsburgh Saturday night.

“I thought we started well against Pittsburgh the other night,” Babcock said, “and then, boom, we give up a goal and suddenly we get deflated way easier than we should.”

The Leafs were so shaky, so fragile and so riddled with a lack of self-esteem going into the game that they simply could not afford more sub-par goaltending, regardless of who was occupying the net. Some teams can get away with just good goaltending. But the Leafs require superhuman goaltending to even be competitive in this league. And when they get the kind of goaltending that had been getting of late, they simply do not stand a chance.

But then in comes Reimer and, against one of the league’s most potent offensive teams, stops 43 shots, including five off the stick of the NHL’s leading goalscorer, Jamie Benn, and eight from Tyler Seguin. There were some who made quite a big deal out of the fact that the Leafs managed to hold the Stars big line of Seguin between Benn and Patrick Sharp to just one goal, but it should be noted that the trio combined for a mind-boggling 18 shots on the evening.

“Obviously, goaltending is a huge part of our sport and it’s no different than pitching or a quarterback,” Babcock said. “It’s huge. They give you confidence.”

The Leafs entered the game as the best possession team in the league and had a 1-7-2 record to show for that. In the game against the Stars, the Leafs got killed on possession, 76-54 in the Corsi department and gave up 19 shots in the second period, but won the game. This was a team that needed an outstanding goaltending performance in the worst way and finally got it.

But Reimer has been here before. There have been so many stops and starts to his career that he’s probably lost count. One of the Maple Leafs problems at the moment is that they appear to have two backup goalies and no No. 1 man. Can Reimer change that? Well, Babcock basically said after the Dallas game that the net is now Reimer’s until he falters. “If you’re him, you want to play every night,” Babcock said. “To me, just play good and you get to start the next game and just make sure you play good again and you get to start after that and you just keep going that way.”

This is the opportunity for Reimer to grab the brass ring, with Bernier a little banged up and relegated to the end of the bench, at least for the time being. But this is also the opportunity Reimer has had countless times before and has been unable to take full advantage of it. He has been brilliant for stretches, but never seems to be able to sustain it.

“Honestly, I feel like I’ve been playing well this season,” said Reimer, who has accounted for both Leaf wins this season. “I’m not getting a couple of bounces and (Monday night) I got a couple of bounces, a couple of posts and a couple that managed to hit me when I was sprawling. It was one of those nights when you worked hard and you got rewarded.”

The job for No. 1 has never been as wide open since Bernier arrived as it is right at this moment. Since coming to Toronto, Bernier has done little to prove he is a day-in, day-out No. 1 goalie in the NHL. And it’s up to Reimer, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, to prove that he can be the one to fill the vacuum. And he’ll have a chance to prove himself all over again two nights from now.

Tie Domi autobiography sheds light on life of an enforcer, but doesn’t name names

Ken Campbell
Tie Domi (left) and his son, Max  (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

One of the most ironic things about the fact that Tie Domi authored an autobiography is that he’d have a very difficult time reading it. As a former beat writer for The Toronto Star, I covered Domi’s career for eight years and I never knew he was dyslexic. I also didn’t know that he was also a celiac with a gluten allergy. Of course, at the time, neither did he.

There are some fairly startling revelations in Shift Work, which was co-written by Jim Lang and is available now. If you liked Domi before this book, you’ll probably like him more now. Written from a personal perspective, of course some of the history is revisionist, but all in all, the book is an entertaining, fast-paced read that has some nuggets of information that pull back the curtain on his career. Domi goes to great lengths to point out how he might not have had book smarts, but he worked harder and had more mental toughness than almost anyone ever in the history of the world. He makes the point early and often, but if Manny can be Manny, then we’ll give some latitude for Tie being Tie.

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Power Rankings: After the circus, dominant Kings back on top

Ken Campbell
Tyler Toffoli goal celebration (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

After the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 overtime win over the Nashville Predators Saturday afternoon to give them a 2-0 record in the extra session, defenseman Drew Doughty said, “We don’t know what to do yet.” Kings coach Darryl Sutter then said, “We’re geniuses at it because we’re 2-0. We know everything about it. We’ve got it figured out.”

It’s not the first time Sutter’s players have not seen eye-to-eye with their coach. But there is clearly no discord in Los Angeles these days for a change and it’s showing on the ice. With the carnage of the Slava Voynov and Mike Richards sagas behind them, the Kings have begun to pick up the pieces.

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The touching story behind Jamie Benn’s OT goal celebration

Ken Campbell
Jamie Benn  (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

There’s a good chance Larry Orr would have cringed at Jamie Benn’s goal celebration when he scored in overtime to give the Dallas Stars a 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night.

The goal came with 2:28 remaining in overtime and capped a wild Dallas rally. It also padded Benn’s lead in both goals (nine) and points (17) in his quest for his second straight scoring title. And the instant after he fired the puck over Ryan Miller’s glove hand to seal the win, the usually subdued Benn looked to the heavens and pointed several times.

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