IN 1988 COLIN CAMPBELL, THEN AN ASSISTANT coach with the Detroit
Red Wings, found himself serving a stint as a sort of probation
officer for Bob Probert, the Red Wings' resident truant. Each morning
Campbell was obliged to show up at the Windsor (Ont.) Arena to
supervise Probert's individual workouts as Probert served a
team-imposed training-camp suspension for continued alcohol abuse.
One October day the 6 ft. 3 ft. ft., 215-pound Probert abruptly left
the ice for the dressing room, prepared to blow off the rest of the
workout. A furious Campbell followed Probert and suddenly found
himself exchanging punches with the NHL's unofficial bare-knuckles
champion. When the two were finally separated, Campbell was grateful
to find he had nothing more serious than matching black eyes.
Rarely is it the domain of an assistant coach to rattle the china
in the dressing room. But the 41-year-old Campbell, now in his fourth
season as a New York Ranger assistant coach, can be blunt and
confrontational when the need arises and has always borne a demeanor
more common to a head coach. When Roger Neilson was fired as New
York's coach in January 1993 after a bitter struggle with Ranger
captain Mark Messier, it was Campbell who said bluntly, ''Mess won,''
as the rest of the players in the dressing room clammed up. Not
surprisingly Campbell is frequently mentioned as a head-coaching
Formerly a bench assistant, Campbell spent some time this season
perched high above the ice acting as a human skycam. As he
scrutinized the action unfolding below him, he relayed observations
and messages down to his headset- wearing fellow assistant coach Dick
Todd. Standing in the large, baleful shadow cast by Mike Keenan, his
longtime friend, Todd fit the more conventional definition of an
Todd's hockey origins are humble. He landed his first job in the
sport as a trainer for the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey
League, although he had no background in that sort of work. Neilson,
then the Petes' coach and a former youth baseball coach of Todd's,
simply wanted to find a position -- any position -- for Todd on the
Peterborough payroll. A shrewd evaluator of talent, Todd would pass
the long bus rides in the minors in the front of the bus, offering
advice and dissent to the head coach, first Neilson and later Keenan,
who coached the Petes during the 1979-80 season.
In December 1981 Todd made the jump from trainer to head coach of
the Petes. ''The fans were brutal back then,'' says Mike Brophy, a
senior writer with The Hockey News. ''Fans knew he had been a
trainer, and they would taunt him mercilessly. Things like 'Hey,
water boy!' ''
Todd, 49, spent 12 seasons as the Petes' coach, twice winning the
league championship while also accumulating one of the highest
winning percentages in junior hockey history (.655). Last summer
Keenan hired him as an assistant, and when the Stanley Cup series
ended in a championship for the Rangers on Tuesday night, one of the
first people Keenan embraced was Todd, a living reminder to Keenan of
his own humble beginnings with the Petes 14 years ago. -- C.S.
This is an article from the June 22, 1994 issue