Florida Panthers’ Brian Campbell – NHL’s catalyst for success
As a fan of the Chicago Blackhawks I was sad to see Brian Campbell or “Soupy” as he is known leave Chicago. When I heard he was going to the Florida Panthers and he would be with Dale Tallon I immediately had a smile come to my face. I knew Campbell was going home again.
I realized that professional hockey and the NHL is a business like any other that needs to make profits to sustain its self. I knew the Blackhawks could not afford to keep Soupy if they wanted to compete and contend for another Stanley Cup. Campbell’s departure from Chicago was simply the business side of hockey it said nothing about Campbell’s talents. If money were no issue and there were no salary cap believe me Campbell would still be in a Blackhawks uniform.
Florida got a first class guy, a great puck moving defensemen and maybe more vital to the Panthers organization a respected leader in the locker room. Whatever it is and maybe it’s just timing, but Campbell seems to bring changes to teams that are failing and help them get turned in the right direction.
Tallon saw this happen in Chicago and was hoping to make this happen in Florida. No one however, could have guessed that it would have happened this quickly for the Panthers. If you look at Campbell he is not a big imposing defensemen what he does bring is finesse. His puck handling abilities are his strength as he can move the puck quickly in the transition game. He usually has a high assist number which speaks again to his vision on ice and puck moving skills.
He is also a solid defensemen and always seems to be leading his team in the +/- category. I believe last year when he was with the Blackhawks he had the highest +/- number of the entire team. This was probably lost when you play on a team like the Blackhawks.
I’m sure at first Campbell was not too happy about leaving Chicago, a now established team with a young skilled core who would contend for the cup for awhile. He was going to an unknown floundering team. What he did know though was the same mastermind behind that young skilled core in Chicago was brewing something similar in Florida which, is why Campbell I’m sure waived his no trade clause to once again team up with Tallon to right another ship.
The Florida Panthers are Campbell’s team which is more than he would have ever been able to say in Chicago. He was shadowed by first line defensive pairing of Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Campbells time on the ice was limited because of them. Also his assist skills were lost and dwarfed by the big guns of Toews, Kane, Sharp and Hossa. This year only a third into the season with the Panthers he already has the same amount of assists 22 as he did the entire year with the Blackhawks. He is having a stellar year for the Panthers.
Soupy may just be the one ingredient that you need to get your hockey team to the playoffs and a Stanley Cup. Dale Tallon thinks so and who can argue with him when it comes to evaluating hockey players and what they bring to a team. If Campbell can pull this off again as he did with Chicago, he may become the most sought after player in the entire NHL.
They say when one door closes another opens, and boy it has practically come off its hinges in Florida for Campbell. Applauds goes to Campbell for getting this organization headed in the right direction and making it a destination for top NHL players to want to play for. The Panthers have positioned them selves beautifully to make the playoffs as the SouthEast division leader as we are a third through the season.
The Cats just need to stay the course and complete what they have started. Who knows in the playoffs anything is possible. Fate is a funny thing and so is irony. It may even be possible that Soupy comes back to the United Center in Chicago to play for another Stanley Cup. This time however, he will have the Cat emblem on his jersey as would Versteeg, Kopecky and Skille all former Blackhawks.
While some fans I’m sure would boo them, the majority like me I think would have a smile on their face. Campbell could lead his team this time being front and center and not overshadowed by anyone. Somehow I think Dale Tallon would be smiling as well if these two teams that he was so instrumental in designing were to meet for the Stanley Cup.
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