League addresses Roberts, Tucker hits

Posted: Monday, April 29, 2002

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell addressed the media covering Game 6 of the Toronto-New York playoff series by speaker phone Sunday to defend the league's decisions on hits by Toronto's Gary Roberts and Darcy Tucker in Game 5.

In Toronto's 6-3 victory Friday night, Roberts checked Isles defenseman Kenny Jonsson from behind into the seamless glass. Jonsson lay on the ice for 5 minutes and is out, day-to-day, with a concussion. Roberts was given a five-minute penalty for charging.

Tucker made a low hit on Islanders captain Michael Peca, leaving Peca with a torn ligament in his left knee. No penalty was called and Peca is out for this season and likely part of next.

Neither player was called in for a hearing by Campbell.

''We didn't think additional discipline applied,'' Campbell said, saying he believed neither player intended to injure.

Campbell said Jonsson, who has a history of concussions, ''turned into the hit ... and there's some responsibility to the player receiving the hit.''

Campbell claimed it was hard for the officials to tell if Jonsson had a head injury, despite the fact the player was prone on the ice for several minutes.

''If there's a head injury, you can assess a misconduct,'' Campbell explained. ''In this case, they weren't so sure. It's easy when the player is bleeding ... it's difficult, lots of time, to tell when there's an injury.''

As for the Tucker hit, Campbell said he had collected tape of similar hits earlier in the season and showed them to a handful of general managers. No general managers got back to Campbell with ''an overwhelming response'' that such hits should be penalized.

He was aware that Tucker had threatened to ''take out'' Peca and ''kill'' him during games, but Campbell said he was not prepared to put microphones on players or officials.

''We don't pay attention to what's been said,'' Campbell said. ''One camp says Tucker wanted to hurt Peca. Do I think he was trying to hurt him? I can't get into his head.''

Trash talking, Campbell added, is tough to ''nail down.''

Campbell hinted that he's finding his responsibilities difficult. He said that while many people clamor for the league to arrange more regular-season games between rivals -- making for more highly charged games -- he would like for it to happen, ''but do it after I get out of this job.''

Campbell did call the Maple Leafs-Islanders series ''particularly'' passionate for playoff series that are usually emotional anyway.

Campbell said he wasn't tempted to lay down the law just to send a message during a postseason that seems peppered with questionable calls and strong criticism of referees.

''To just suspend to bring the temperature down is not the reason to give a suspension,'' he said. ''I know it's hard for people to figure out the consistency (of our decisions), and it's difficult, but that's our job.''

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