Brendan Shanahan's opening week as NHL sheriff could not have possibly been better received in the public arena, but the league's new disciplinarian is upset at the backlash directed at his predecessor.
"One of the disturbing things that's happened over the last few days is the attacks on Colin Campbell," Shanahan told ESPN.com Tuesday. "This is a guy that doesn't get the credit he deserves for all of these measures that are in the game right now, that make it better and have improved it."
Shanahan pointed to the war room in Toronto, where the league's hockey operations staff has monitored games for years. There was no war room before Campbell came on board.
"He has taught me, he continues to teach me," Shanahan said. "He's one of the most moral people that I've ever met in the game of hockey. He's committed his entire life to the game of hockey, he raised is son to play in the NHL. For people who think that they're pleasing me by complimenting my regime and insulting his, it does quite the opposite. He's very much a part of my daily routine in leaning on him and getting his experience."
Shanahan has also been given a different mandate than Campbell. For this season, the league wants stiffer suspensions for illegal hits. Rule 48 (illegal hits to the head) has also been widened for this season.
"I've got a bigger net to capture some of these illegal hits," said Shanahan. "The rules were different when he was here."
Shanahan is not basking in his own glory. It's still the preseason. At some point, all these suspensions are going to grate on teams. He knows that's coming. The Blue Jackets, already, thought James Wisniewski's suspension was harsh.
"There's a lot of pressure on these guys [GMs] and the pressure goes up when the season starts," said Shanahan. "I don't expect people to be happy with it. But for now, everybody knows that they want consistency and they want transparency. I'm giving transparency; the consistency part will only be judged over time and that's all they're asking for."
The focus for Shanahan is already obvious: repeat offenders will be dealt with harshly. That's why Jody Shelley received a five regular season-game ban and Wisniewski received eight.
"I'm taking direction from our general managers and our players that the repeat offenders, the players that have a repeated history of violent incidents in their career, are being dealt with more harshly," Shanahan said.
He will also consider the incident itself, the extent of the injury and the game situation.
"But the main marching order I got from people in hockey I bumped into was, 'It's the guys that do this all the time that we need to come down on the hardest,'" Shanahan said.
On the flip side, Brad Boyes only got two preseason games for his dangerous hit over the weekend because as Shanahan said he had a "spotless record" before it. From now on, however, Boyes is on the radar.
"Even Brad now going forward will be considered a repeat offender, and I think that's upsetting for a player like Brad," said Shanahan. "Even if that was an accident, I think he'll be more careful."
In the end, not all suspensions will be longer ones. Shanahan will deal with each incident on a case-by-case basis.
"I still believe in the effectiveness of one-, two- or three-game suspensions if warranted. I've never said that those are gone," said Shanahan. "What I'm trying to do here is make the game safer, change player behavior, that's my focus. My focus isn't on punishing people. It's about making the game safer."