Later on, Collie: Brendan Shanahan Named NHL's New Head of Discipline

Later on, Collie: Brendan Shanahan Named NHL's New Head of Discipline

In keeping with some of the other changes happening within the National Hockey League, commissioner Gary Bettman announced this evening that future-Hall-of-Famer and current VP of Hockey and Business Development Brendan Shanahan will be the leader of the NHL's new Department of Player Safety. In addition to examining the legality of head shots and the evolution of protective equipment given hockey's ongoing concussion crisis, Shanahan will also be replacing Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell as the NHL's new Head of Discipline.

Shanahan's ascendance to such a position can hardly be considered a surprise given his recent relationship with the league office. Credited, at least in part, with the idea of last year's "Captain's Pick" All-Star Draft and already, as mentioned above, a league executive, Shanny has been influencing the executive staff in clearly substantial ways since his retirement in 2009.

The legacy of Colin Campbell and Gary Bettman's other announcements from his yearly State of the League presser after the jump...

Let's just come out and say it—Flyers fans aren't exactly fond of Mr. Campbell. Quite frankly, it might be difficult to find any hockey fan with complimentary words for the now former Head of Discipline.

Campbell's decisions regarding supplemental discipline—read: fines and suspensions—were often derided as unfair and wildly inconsistent. Remembering Campbell from his days as a player during the era of the Broad Street Bullies and his later stint as the head coach of the New York Rangers in the mid-1990s, Flyers fans have always been wary of Colin's potential for a predisposition to judgement in cases involving members of the Orange & Black.

That said, Campbell has performed one of the single most thankless jobs in all sports for the past 17 years. Though local fans may feel Campbell exhibited a specific bias toward our fair city and its hockey club, the truth is that such a sentiment was fairly common around the league. After all, literally any fine or suspension could be criticized as inconsistent with previous disciplinary measures given the somewhat impossible task of establishing stone precedents in an evolving league and a sport with constant motion that can switch from fluid to violent in an instant.

Moreover, handing out punishments and aggravating fan-bases wasn't a job Campbell exactly relished. Indeed, as Gary Bettman detailed during his Wednesday evening press conference, it was Campbell himself who suggested the job be turned over to Shanahan. In agreement, Bettman joked that Campbell's nearly two decades in such a controversial position has certainly qualified as "punishment enough."

While excitement for a new head of discipline is certainly understandable, it remains to be seen if Shanahan can make any better of the disciplinary mess than his predecessor. Though Colin certainly appeared overwhelmingly inept when performing his job, time will tell if such a perceived incompetence is truly the shortcomings of Campbell or, rather, the inevitable thanklessness of the responsibility.

This discussion has, until this point, attempted to keep the discussion of Campbell's tenure somewhat balanced, but this 2010 post from MC79Hockey.com featuring a chain of messages between Collie and former Director of Officiating Stephen Walkom appears to point to some less than objective statements from key members of the league office. Is he a Flyer hating scumbag? Is he an alright guy with a tough job? Is the bend in the road a dead end if you round the corner and see Dean Warren standing there? We'll let you be the judge.

As for other league updates, commissioner Bettman revealed that the former Atlanta Thrashers will remain a member of the Southeastern Division for the 2011-2012 season despite their change in location. After the season, re-alignment will discussed to relieve the travel strain on both Winnipeg and its division rivals.

Though Bettman could not speak with any level of certainty, he did speculate on the future of the league's structure, commenting on the potential of a Winnipeg move to the Western Conference. Obviously, such a scenario would necessitate a Western conference club coming back East and a subsequent realignment of the Eastern divisions. Though a Central Division-Southeastern Division swap would be the cleanest in terms of preserving the current alignment, the issue is obviously complicated and resolution remains a long way from settled. Adding one extra nugget for the fans and media, Bettman also hinted that realignment could include a return to a more balanced schedule between Eastern and Western and division and non-division foes, similar to that which was utilized prior to the 2004-2005 lockout.

Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks begins begins this evening at 8ET. Alright 'Nucks.

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).