Dear Colin Campbell: Why? Why? Why?

Danny Briere , the Flyers' first-half MVP, has continued the hot hand he had in last season's playoffs. He has scored 24 goals.
Danny Briere , the Flyers' first-half MVP, has continued the hot hand he had in last season's playoffs. He has scored 24 goals.
Posted: January 16, 2011

An open letter to Colin Campbell, the NHL's vice president of hockey operations.

Re: Danny Briere's all-star snub.

Dear Colie:

I was hoping we could talk, but you never returned my calls. I understand. I'm sure you are busy with all those disciplinary phone hearings you hold, trying to figure out who should get suspended and who should get slapped on the wrist.

Heck, the Flyers alone have kept you busy this season, and you must feel like Jody Shelley's phone pal.

I also understand why you might be reluctant to talk to the media. After all, you got into a rather messy situation a couple of months ago after some of your old e-mails, sent to the director of officiating, became public. I must say you didn't seem too professional when you criticized officials for calling disputed penalties against your son, Gregory, in a 2007 game when he played for Florida.

It was also revealed you called Boston's Marc Savard "a little fake artist" for drawing a high-sticking penalty against your son. I must tell you, some folks in Philadelphia were surprised you didn't mention Dan Carcillo while you were popping off in your e-mails. You see, Philly fans - based on the slew of e-mails I have received - think you hate the Flyers and have instructed your officials to be tough on them. They point out that the Flyers usually are one of the league's most-penalized teams.

Those Flyers fans - Stepfords, I think radio host Mike Missanelli calls them - are pretty paranoid, eh?

All of which brings me to the main reason for writing this letter.  Like thousands of others, I am puzzled by some of the hockey operations committee's recent all-star selections - specifically, the stunning omission of Danny Briere, the Flyers' first-half MVP. You are in charge of that committee, and I wanted to find out how the decision-making process works when all-stars are chosen.

It also seemed a little odd - no, downright foolish - that the Flyers had just one all-star when they led the Eastern Conference at the time of the selections. (Mediocre Carolina had two all-stars, which you probably thought was a good idea because they are hosting the game, right?) 

Bypassing Briere was even more confusing because the committee picked from a larger group of players this year, without regard to the conferences.

Since you head that committee, Colie, I'm assuming you had the most input on the 36 all-stars that were added on Tuesday.

Maybe you and the committee members have been preoccupied and haven't had time to follow the season. It's a shame because if you had been paying attention, you surely would have noticed Briere, playing in his 13th season, is having a career year.

Only five NHL players had more goals than Briere when the selections were made, and he also was among the league leaders in the plus-minus ratings.

All told, 24 forwards will be in the Jan. 30 All-Star Game, and Briere somehow won't be one of them.

You could argue that since last year's playoffs, Briere has been the league's most dynamic forward not named Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos. Briere led all players with a franchise-record 30 points in last year's playoffs, and he came within one point of the NHL record for points in the Stanley Cup Finals - 13 by Wayne Gretzky in 1988.

Briere has carried that playoff hot streak into this season, and has 24 goals - two shy of his total for the entire 2009-10 season.

Again, I know you probably haven't had much time to check out the stats or standings because of your job as disciplinary czar. And I'm sure you've had to answer your share of questions about playing the Winter Classic in the rain instead of postponing it to the next day. Your ratings-hungry league decided to risk injuries to the players - and inconvenience the fans in the stadium - by playing that showcase game in the rain on a Saturday night, presumably because you didn't want to go against the NFL on Sunday. And you did have a ratings hit!

Anyway, just as the rain diminished the Winter Classic, you have cheapened the All-Star Game by bypassing Briere.

It seems ironic, however, that in the long run, snubbing all the Flyers, except Claude Giroux, may actually benefit the team. Some players, like Mike Richards and Kimmo Timonen, are banged up and they could use the rest. The all-star snubs might be a unifying point in the season's second half, might enable them to play with more of an edge because they want to show you made a mistake by overlooking them.

By the way, I am not a homer. Far from it. Former Flyers coach John Stevens once told me some of my stories were "full of doom and gloom" because I was critical of his team.

I wanted to give you some perspective before I raise the final question I had hoped to ask: Is there any chance that, deep in your mind, you hold a grudge against Briere because of his comments this season after you gave him a three-game suspension for a head hit?

One of your associates scoffed at the notion, but, hey, it would only be human nature if you wanted to get back at Briere. After you suspended him, Briere claimed you really weren't paying attention to him during the hearing and that you had your "mind made up" before he spoke.

Briere wondered if his suspension had an effect on his all-star snub.  Personally, I can't believe anyone would be that petty.

Not even someone who did not suspend Matt Cooke for a vicious blindside hit last year to the head of Savard, the "little fake artist" who drew an annoying penalty from your son.


Sam Carchidi.

Inside the Flyers:

Read Sam Carchidi's Flyers blog, "Broad Street Bull," at

Blog response of the week

Subject: Nik Zherdev's return to the lineup against Boston.

Posted on Jan. 14 at 11:54 a.m.

By neddyflanders

Zherdev back in the lineup - one goal and one assist playing way less than everybody else. Yes, his defense needs some work, but let's face it, we need goal scorers, and our defense is good. He's probably nervous because all he hears about is how bad his defense is. Just let the guy play and score 30 goals.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or Follow on Twitter at


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