If there's one thing that irritates non-Torontonians about Toronto, it's the extent of the navel gazing. Nothing happens until it's happened in Toronto. Nothing matters until it affects Toronto. Torontonians are an insular lot, rarely concerning themselves with events that happen beyond the GTA.
As such, I expect that many of you missed a story that hit the news this week - Colin Campbell, the NHL's VP of Hockey Operations, has had some bad press as a result of some emails he wrote that were quoted in reasons released by the Ontario Labour Relations Board in which he was critical of penalties involving his son, called Marc Savard a faker and, notwithstanding Bill Daly's denials, appears to have involved himself directly in the officiating of games involving his son. No Toronto angle, no interest, right?
What if there was a Toronto angle?
At paragraph 124 of the decision of the Ontario Labour Relations Board, the email string referenced below appears, prefaced by this: "A couple weeks [after mid-February] Mike Murphy or Mr. Walkom (it was not clear which) wrote to Mr. Campbell (and Mr. Walkom) that Mr. Warren had "missed high stick on [player] with 130 left in the game…..hard for a Ref to see….[general manager] will be whining’. Mr. Campbell replied: "
To Stephen Walkom/Tor/NHL@NHL
Subject Re: Delayed Penalties/High Sticks 02/#/2007 4:24 pm
A bend in the road is a dead end if you round the corner and Dean Warren is standing there. Your answer re: his high stick calls and the score of the game were horse shit. The 3rd call on [player] was while they were down 5 on 4 and on a def zone face off vs that little fake artist [player] I had him in [city] biggest faker going. And Warren fell for it when he grabbed his face on a face off. Your supposed to see the act, not call the embellishing act. Dean Warren has to go with [referee] There must be a way to get rid of this guy. Is there a way we can tract (sic) and total minors called by referees this year. We could then get the minors they call per game. … or with 2 [referees on the ice] it is impossible? Warren and [referee] out of [club’s] games. Give them to [referees].
Stephen Walkom to: Colin Campbell
02/#/2007 04:39 PM
that’s funny yet not funny….I think we have that data but it may work in his favour….that’s why I’m against data and more about IT….he doesn’t have it, never had it, and is average at best, probably never get it, OK I’m going to stop it….
From: Stephen Walkom
Sent: 02/#/2007 08:09 AM
To: Mike Murphy
Cc: Colin Campbell
Subject: Re: ….. / …….
Terry ran into …….after the game who was upset, linesmen…………..viewed the play but no injury could be found therefore no call [player] was saying to Terry that he was injured but the guys didn’t see anything but spit and gatorade residue….therefore no double minor….
Colin Campbell to Stephen Walkom, Mike Murphy
02/#/2007 09:21 AM
I know Murph and Kinger like [player] as a player but my view of him is this exactly…he puts his whining ahead of the game. I don’t think this is a regular occurrence (…..getting screwed) and …..exploded ………over the disallowed goal. He may be uncontrollable by ………….and……………..as I think his frustration level has hit a high point. He hates officials as well. He is still pissed off at [referee] for a call he missed in the playoffs years ago as I remember him bugging Murph about it. Let’s give him Warren and [referee] than (sic) he will really have something to whine about.
There have clearly been emails removed from this. The second line of the first email in this string, purportedly in response to an email saying that "...Mr. Warren had 'missed high stick on [player] with 130 left in the game…..hard for a Ref to see….[general manager] will be whining’" reads "...Your answer re: his high stick calls and the score of the game were horse shit." That email is not included in the discussion.
The first email in this string is the Savard email. (It also appears that it may be an example of Campbell becoming involved in the selection of referees for future games involving his son, a point which has not yet been made, but that's neither here nor there, as it's not about Toronto.) The second email is also clearly a response to it.
The third and the fourth email though...they aren't necessarily related. I had assumed that they were, given the manner in which they are presented but, after I posted this on Sunday night, someone on Twitter (I can't remember who and it would be exceedingly difficult to figure it out; if it was you, say so and I'll credit you) pointed out something very simple: Marc Savard hadn't played a playoff game at that point in his career. To the extent that Campbell is talking, in the fourth email, about someone who had played an NHL playoff game, he's not talking about Marc Savard.
When you go back and examine the email headers with that in mind, it looks like the fourth email is from a different thread entirely and it is not clear that it refers to the same game. The third email appears to possibly have the same subject as the first, with the subject having been redacted there, but it's not clear. The third and fourth emails were sent in the morning and the other ones were sent in the afternoon. Mike Murphy is mentioned as a recipient on those emails and not on the first two.
If that is, in fact, a second email string, to what does it refer? There are some clues:
1. The events under discussion presumably relate to a game in late February, given how the Chair presented them;
2. There was a disallowed goal that prompted someone to erupt; and
3. Dean Warren most likely did not call the game in question, given the statement "...Let’s give him Warren and [referee] than (sic) he will really have something to whine about."
My search of the Google News archives doesn't turn up anything about a disallowed goal in the Bruins-Panthers game that was under discussion. However, there is a game in that time frame that fits this description perfectly. On February 22, 2007, the Leafs played the Islanders on Long Island. They lost 3-2 in the shootout after an apparent Mats Sundin goal was waved off by Kerry Fraser. The National Post described the scene:
Many of the Leafs were livid after the game, claiming that captain Mats Sundin was robbed of a legitimate tally at 2:37 of the third period that would have put the visitors ahead 3-1. Instead, Trent Hunter scored his second of the night on a power play with 6:04 left in regulation time, lifting the Islanders into a 2-2 tie and setting up a scoreless overtime.
Most of the talk afterwards in the Leafs' dressing room surrounded the no-goal decision on Sundin by veteran referee Kerry Fraser.
"What's concerning to me is I don't know how [Fraser] makes that call with such conviction," said veteran forward Jeff O'Neill. "It's a terrible call and it's unacceptable at this time of the year. The replay is clearly evident that it's not f---ing goalie interference. If it is goalie interference, call a penalty. We have to answer to people when we screw up, but I don't know what these guys have to do. It's a goddamn joke to be honest with you."
Sundin scampered to the Leafs' team bus without talking to reporters.
This is the only game that I could find with a disallowed goal in close proximity to those emails. It would also appear to have been a highly controversial one.
Notably, while there's some question about what game the third email was referring to, Chad Kilger appears to have taken a high stick to the face late in that game which went unpenalized - it's discussed in the HFBoards game threads as well as in a thread charmingly entitled "Fuck Kerry Fraser" that followed the game.
To be very clear, it cannot be said conclusively that this is the game to which Campbell is referring in that email. It does, based on a review of news stories around that time, seem to be the only game with a highly controversial disallowed goal and, therefore, seem to be the game that Campbell was most likely referring to. As to who the player who "puts his whining ahead of the game", is "uncontrollable", "hates officials" and has a frustration level that has "hit a high point" might be, well, that's unknowable. Jeff O'Neill might be a good guess on the basis of his comments in the media. If there is some video of the disallowed goal available, it might be interesting to view to see if anyone goes completely nuts. PPP Update: Here is video of the disallowed goal. Thanks to DGB for finding it:
Ultimately, the Leafs did, in fact, have Dean Warren as a referee again in the 2006-07 season. He refereed a penalty filled 5-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on March 16, 2007. We don't know if they had [referee] again that season, as we don't know who [referee] is.
The Maple Leafs missed the 2007 playoffs by one point.