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NHL VP Campbell ducks the elbows issue

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This morning's Tennessean has a bizarre bit on the Tootoo-Staubitz fight from last week's Predators vs. Sharks game, which included several elbows thrown by Staubitz that broke Tootoo's nose:

"Do we see anything wrong with the Staubitz-Tootoo fight? At the moment no," NHL Vice President Colin Campbell, who handles league discipline, said in an e-mail.

"A player can leave his glove on to fight if he wants, so if he was hitting him with a piece of equipment that was worn legally there is no rule in place for that. If he hit him with an elbow instead of a fist there is no rule to prevent that at the moment."

Interesting... so if rules regarding elbows to the head don't apply during a fight, then I guess it's OK to just grab your stick and cross-check an opponent in the face? Fair's fair after all, Mr. Campbell!

For those who need a refresher, here's the video of the fight. It started out as your basic, high-tempo scrap, but once the elbows started landing (the 1st at the 19 second mark of the video) Tootoo's nose, and resolve, crumbled:

What makes Campbell's stance even more bizarre is the contrast between this hands-off approach to one player using his equipment as a weapon to cause injury to another player, and the response his office took to Sean Avery's antics in the playoffs last year:

Now, that was a situation that didn't involve any harm occuring to any of the parties involved, and in fact could have been handled on the ice, at least if any of the Devils could have lived up to Scott Stevens' example in how to defend your goalie's space. But Colin Campbell rode quickly to the rescue in that case, to ensure that such madness would not be tolerated.

By the way, the relevant section of the NHL rulebook regarding elbowing is included below. It certainly seems like Staubitz should have gotten a major penalty and a Game Misconduct for his work, although to give the refs credit things happened so fast that many observers didn't pick up on this until seeing a replay. All the same, the league office has room to hand down supplementary discipline, or at least clarify that such tactics are not to be tolerated going forward. These aren't the old days when elbow pads were just a wad of cotton; oftentimes they have hard plastic shells, and make viscious weapons when used like Staubitz did here. The NHL should (and easily could) clarify that elbow shots like this are not to be tolerated. If not, what's next? A guy using his skate to go "Richard Zednik" on an opponent?

Rule 46 - Elbowing

46.1 Elbowing - Elbowing shall mean the use of an extended elbow in a
manner that may or may not cause injury.

46.2 Minor Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a minor
penalty, based on the degree of violence, to a player or goalkeeper
guilty of elbowing an opponent.

46.3 Major Penalty - A major penalty, at the discretion of the Referee,
shall be imposed on any player or goalkeeper who uses his elbow to
foul an opponent. A major penalty must be imposed under this rule
for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an opponent (see

46.4 Match Penalty - The Referee, at his discretion, may assess a match
penalty if, in his judgment, the player or goalkeeper attempted to or
deliberately injured his opponent by elbowing.

46.5 Game Misconduct Penalty - When a major penalty is imposed under
this rule for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or head of an
opponent, a game misconduct penalty shall also be imposed.

46.6 Fines and Suspensions - When a major penalty and a game
misconduct is assessed for a foul resulting in an injury to the face or
head of an opponent, an automatic fine of one hundred dollars ($100)
shall be imposed.

If deemed appropriate, supplementary discipline can be applied by
the Commissioner at his discretion (refer to Rule 29).