Let this be the last I write on PunchGate:
After the NHL announced that Scott Walker's "automatic" 1-game suspension had been overturned, the Hurricanes released a statement containing the following from Walker:
Based on what was said on the ice as I was dropping my gloves, it was my understanding that I was engaged in an altercation. We are left to infer that this was the basis for Colin Campbell's decision to let Walker go with a slap on the wrist. After all, who would blame a guy for throwing the first punch after a verbal invitation?
But wait... there's more. Go ahead to the 0:57 mark of this video:
Well, that certainly doesn't uphold Walker's end of the story. If anything at all was said, it was Ward jawing at Cullen from close range, while Walker was several feet away and charging into the scrum like a freight train. But Ward never even opened his mouth to speak to Walker directly, as is clear on the video.
Now we have public comments by Ward, calling Walker's explanation "a convenient story that the NHL accepted." He specifically denies any verbal exchange with Walker:
I don't remember a single word being said. I was looking at Matt Cullen. The moment I saw his right hand was when it was about a foot away from my face.
Ward also says that Campbell never contacted him during the review process.
In other words: Colin Campbell took Walker on his word that Ward had invited the fight verbally, without bothering to check with Ward. The absurdity of that process is hard to swallow at first, but it certainly doesn't seem that Ward would make such a claim if it weren't true.
Perhaps Walker thought he heard something like an invitation from Ward, but the video clearly disproves that story. Either Walker is mistaken, or he is a liar who took advantage of Campbell's irresponsible handling of the situation.
Either way, this is just another Walker-style black eye on the face of the league.