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.

Bottom feeders refuse to tank by playing hard…and badly

Red Wings celebration (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

On the night the Edmonton Oilers were officially eliminated from the playoff race for the ninth straight season, the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes had the potential for an all-out Tank-a-thon. But the more you watch these bottom feeders play, the more you realize they’re not losing on purpose to get a chance at a generational talent.

They’re just really, really bad hockey teams.

Say what you will about the moves the power brokers of the Buffalo Sabres, Arizona Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and Toronto Maple Leafs have made off the ice, but it’s crystal clear that those who have a say on what happens on the 200-by-85 playing surface will have nothing to do with the stink of losing on purpose. Read more

NHL makes history with first-ever Russian referee

Ken Campbell
Evgeny Romasko (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

It was only fitting that the first Russian to ever referee an NHL game would do it in Detroit, the city that assembled the Russian Five and is home to one of the all-time greatest Russian players in NHL history in Pavel Datsyuk.

Evgeny Romasko made history Monday night by becoming the first-ever Russian-born official to work an NHL game when the Red Wings defeated the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. It took Romasko just four minutes and 52 seconds to call the first penalty of his NHL career, a highsticking minor against Marek Zidlicky of the Red Wings, which impressed his boss, NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom. Read more

Must see: John Tavares plays the hero again with an OT beauty

Ken Campbell
John Tavares (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

If you know anything about John Tavares, it’s that he thrives on pressure situations and loves having the puck on his stick when the game is on the line. He proved that with the Canadian team at the 2009 World Junior Championship, but hasn’t had much of a chance to play in situations that matter in the NHL.

That’s one of the unfortunate byproducts of playing for the New York Islanders. But that’s all changed this season. The Islanders are a contender and Tavares is emerging as a bona fide superstar in the NHL, and a leading contender for the Hart Trophy. The term ‘superstar’ is hugely overused in hockey and given to far too many players who don’t deserve it. But Tavares is truly becoming a superstar and his performance against the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night proved that. Read more

Maple Leafs (finally) make the right call by scratching Nazem Kadri, John Tavares sounds off

Ken Campbell
Nazem Kadri (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star/Getty Images)

Nazem Kadri stood at his stall at the Air Canada Centre Monday morning and said all the right things. Talked about how he slept in Sunday morning and was late for practice and took the blame and the consequences like a professional. The cynics in the crowd might say it’s the first time a player on the Toronto Maple Leafs has actually shown up in the last couple of months.

“I’ve apologized to the coaching staff…it was my fault and I screwed up and I’m willing to take whatever is given to me,” Kadri said after it was announced he would be a healthy scratch for tonight’s game against the New York Islanders. “It was uncharacteristic of me and it will never happen again.” Read more

Meet the “very, very smart” man who will win this year’s Calder Trophy

Ken Campbell
Filip Forsberg (John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)

At Christmastime, we North Americans have our egg nog. Nordic countries have their glogg (pronounced “gloog,” with a heavy accent on the ‘oo’). You could say that in Sweden they love to glug their glogg, a sweet, high-octane mulled wine that is served warm so as to raise the temperature of the mouth and stomach, thereby pushing the blood to the skin to create an all-round glow, warming the body and the soul from the inside out. Swedes like to spend all Christmas Day sitting around drinking glogg and watching Donald Duck cartoons.

Anyway, it was only a couple sleeps before Christmas and the Presidents’ Trophy-contending Nashville Predators found themselves with a rare day off. Now, Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm could have spent their off-day concocting a brew of wine, brandy, cardamom, orange peels and cinnamon sticks themselves. Yeah, that’s what a couple of guys in their 20s could have done. But that wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun as taking a road trip to Ikea to pick up some glogg themselves.

The only problem is Nashville got itself an NHL team 16 years ago, but sadly still has no Ikea store. Atlanta, on the other hand, lost its team, but can take solace in the fact its residents can buy reasonably priced particle board furniture with names like ‘Kottebo’ and ‘Riffla’ that they have to assemble themselves to their hearts’ content. So it was on this December day when Forsberg and Ekholm decided to jump into Ekholm’s 2015 Audi SQ5 SUV and take the I-24 past Chattanooga to the I-75 into Atlanta, which accounts for a drive of about three-and-a-half hours. Then they got their brew and a little taste of home at the local Ikea outlet and promptly turned around and drove back. Read more

NHL and AHL numbers show 3-on-3 OT is only way to reduce shootouts

Ken Campbell
David Schlemko on Tuukka Rask  (Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

The next time Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland shows up at the GM meetings trying to convince his colleagues to change the rules governing overtime and shootouts and go to 3-on-3 hockey in extra time, he’ll have some real data to bolster his argument. And that data will tell him and everyone in the hockey world that the only way to lessen the impact of shootouts is to go to 3-on-3.

It will also tell them that the customary and cautious half measures the NHL took to do a quick shovel scrape of the ice and change ends to force the long change have done almost nothing to decide games in overtime. Read more

CWHL MVP Rebecca Johnston has had a brilliant past, awaits brighter future

Ken Campbell
Rebecca Johnston (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)

Her pal Tessa Bonhomme likes to refer to Rebecca Johnston as, “a defenseman’s worst nightmare.” And if this season was any indication, it’s only going to get worse.

That’s because Johnston, who already has two Olympic gold medals around her neck, is about the closest thing you can be to a professional in women’s hockey. Her decision to move full-time to Calgary this season was made on the premise that she would only get better being so close to Hockey Canada’s headquarters and all the training facilities it has to offer women’s players. By day, she works part-time for an insurance company, but aside from that it’s all training and playing. Whether it’s Hockey Canada skills sessions or practices with the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, there aren’t many days when Johnston isn’t on the ice. Read more

Why aren’t the NHL’s big stars shooting the lights out this season?

Ken Campbell
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin Photo by Gregory Shamus/NHLI via Getty Images)

As we head down the stretch run of the NHL season, the race for the Art Ross Trophy has never been closer. Going into tonight’s games, three points separates first from seventh in the scoring race and there are just eight points between the top spot and 18th place.

There have never been more players clustered at the top of the scoring race, but star players are about to make history this season for another, more ignominious reason. As it stands now, not accounting for Alex Ovechkin’s white-hot scoring streak and based only on points-per-game to this point of the season, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby are on pace to score 86 points each to lead the NHL. (If that holds and they finish tied, Malkin would take the Art Ross on the basis of having more goals.) Read more