Blackhawks Offseason Thought- Brian Campbell over-paid and over-hated

With all of the salary dumping that the Hawks have done so far in the offseason, many names came up many different times as far as who might be next to go. One name that fans seemed to hone-in on as a guy to move was defenseman Brian Campbell. There seemed to be an odd clamour for Campbell to be moved, and my initial recation was surprise. After a little bit of research, I feel confident in saying that, while Campbell is certainly making more dough than he is earning, Hawk fans have an illegitimate hate for Campbell that simply is illogical.

The contract I most compare Campbell's to is Alfonso Soriano. Both men were signed as "big-name" free agents with large expectations to live up to their respective large contracts. While Campbells contract, eight-years for $56.8, $7.14 million a year. is meager compared to Soriano's, eight-years at $136 million, avergaing $17 million a year, they are comparable withing their respective sports.

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Campbell certainly has done a better job earning his salary than Soriano. In his first two seasons with the Blackhawks, Campbell has scored 52 (7-45) 38 (7-31). He played in only 68 games in '09-10, while he appeared on ice in all 82 the prior year. The 2009-10 season also saw Campbell improve on his plus/minus as well; improving from +5 his first year to +18 this past season. However, this is not even the primary reason to reconsider your disdain for Campbell.

Does anyone still remember the Nashville series? The Hawks looked like they were skating on slippers during the first handful of games. The powerplay was a stutter at best and the Hawks were slowed down and pushed around by the Predators. Not to poke the tender wounds of the Dustin Byfuglien trade, but his sloppy defense was a large reason why the Predators looked good on offense in the two games they won (and the third they nearly won).

When Campbell finally reemerged from the Ovechkin hit, the Hawks finally regained some speed of the powerplay. Byfuglien was then able to slide right in front of the net for the rest of playoffs and win the spotlight, and a eventually a fresh home to make some star cash. My point? Maybe the Hawks would've gone down in the playoffs if Brian Campbell had not returned to lineup.

Just like a shaky baseball bullpen, when someone goes down in hockey, certain players' roles will change. Byfuglien was put into a position where he was obviously uncomfortable, and the powerplay displayed a drastic lag. Campbell is no superstar, and he's not worth $7.14 million a year, but he's had two pretty good seasons for the Hawks, and the Hawks are obviously a better team when he is on the ice.

So what's with the Campbell hate Hawks fans?


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  • I agree that the Hawks are a better team with Campbell, he is a great hockey player and i'm glad he is on the team and who cares about the salary it's not his fault for taking what was offered to him.

  • In reply to LazyMongoose:

    A good point; Campbell's underperformance should (almost) be more of a knock (or another one) on former GM Dale Talon than it is on Campbell himself. If someone wanted to overpay you by a few million dollars, you wouldn't remind them that that seems like a bit more cash than you are worth, would you? No. You would take that money and do your best to live up to the contract.

    Should we be disappointed that Campbell isn't earning his large contract? Yes. Should we be blaming Campbell and knocking him every chance we get? No: he's part of our beloved hockey team-- try rooting for him.

  • It's the Chicago conundrum... we hate it when our teams are "too cheap" to sign top-money FAs, but then we hate our FAs for making so much money unless they earn every single penny, which few of them ever do.

  • In reply to romanfarraday:

    Right on. I couldn't agree more. Sometimes it seems necessary to "hate on" the player, but Campbell has been far away from underperforming to THAT level.

    You have to love backward-Chicago-sports-logic!

  • I hate Campbell because he is a horrible defensemen. The only thing he does good defensively is making the initial outlet pass for the breakout, that is, when he isn't forechecked. If you watched the Stanley Cup finals, he was a turnover machine because the Flyers had a better forecheck than the Preds. Sure, Campbell has great offensive skills, which can be validated statistically. But his main focus is defense and they're aren't any tangible stats that validate my point. But in the Stanley Cup finals Campbell was the 5th defensemen three out of six games according to ice time. That means coach Q relied more on Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, and Sopel more so than Campbell.

  • In reply to Cubsjunkie:

    I think that these first two points are incredibly valid, for this specific discussion and nearly every large-priced free agent ever signed in Chicago.

    To respond to Matt; I certainly cannot argue with you statistically but I have no problem saying that "horrible defenseman" is extreme. He may be average defensively and may be a roaming bullseye for other checkers on the ice, but the Hawks obviously need a player of that calibur on their defensive line because he is so capable of moving the puck. Keith, Seabrook, and Hjalmarsson are obviously better defenders than Campbell and are therefore more deserving of that playing time; so no argument there.

    However, if you are implying that Sopel is a better player, or was more important to the Hawks last year than Campbell, I must question your sanity. Sopel was out there because pucks were willingly flying into his body whether he was trying to block them or not. The Hawks will not miss Sopel this year, and we know how much they would miss Campbell. Campbell certainly was a larger part of last season's success than Sopel (even counting the playoffs, during which those roles seemed to flip-flop at times). Sopel stepped up his game in the playoffs, but Campbell merely showing up again altered the Hawks' stuttering first-round course.

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