Monday, January 14, 2008

On Brian Campbell

In a post written in the wee hours of Saturday night/Sunday morning, I said this:

And yes, I am partly complaining about this because I know fans and some media are going to use the All-Star selection as ammo in the on-going "WE MUST SIGN CAMPBELL NOW!" arguments and that's ridiculous. Yes, it's very nice that he was selected by the players (Note: I know now that he was actually selected by a committee of GM's etc. and not players - sorry!) and I'm glad everyone knows who he is but that said, All-Star games mean nothing and don't belong in a discussion about how valuable a player is or isn't.

In his column Sunday morning, Bucky Gleason said this:

And that brings us to Campbell, who is one of several players who personified the Sabres’ direction in the post-lockout NHL. His price tag increased again Friday when he was named an All-Star for the second straight season.

It's so cute how predictable he is, isn't it?

Seriously, maybe it does drive Campbell's asking price up, I don't know. But it shouldn't. All-Star games are popularity contests. They're based on name recognition and reputation. They have very little to do with how a player is currently playing, what he's bringing to his team, or how much money he's worth. When you start a selection process with "We have to pick atleast one player from every team" it seems you could immediately deduce that this isn't entirely based on merit.

That said, I do agree with Bucky's main point: By now the Sabres should have a good idea of whether they can/want to re-sign Campbell and if they can't/won't, they need to try and get something for him in a trade. I'll cut management some slack on the Grier/McKee/Dumont off-season because that was a tough off-season. Most of the roster was up for negotiation/arbitration. I don't think anyone predicted McKee going for so much money and I know no one predicted the absurd arbitration awards. (I know Daniel Briere's $5 million award looks good now but let's try and keep some perspective and remember that at the time, it was frakkin' ridiculous.) But here and now, Darcy Regier and company should know where they stand and do whatever they need to do to get something out of the deal.

I'm so tired of the Brian Campbell saga and I really hate that if he's not a Sabre next season, he's going to get lumped in with Daniel Briere and Chris Drury. From what I've heard, the Sabres have handled this pretty well. They have been talking to him and his agent and they just haven't been able to come to an agreement. Let me remind everyone once again that negotiating a contract is not as simple as handing a guy a piece of paper and asking him to sign on the dotted line. In my opinion, five million plus per year for Campbell is too much money. He's a good offensive defenseman but not an elite one and he's an average defensive defenseman at best. I have no doubt that he'll do very well on the open market if it comes to that, but I also firmly believe that if he does sign a large contract he's going to get weighed down by the expectations that come along with it and his new team and fanbase are going to be in for a disappointment. I like Brian Campbell just fine, but I would much rather the big money go to Ryan Miller or Jason Pominville or Paul Gaustad and I'm glad that, unlike most GMs, Darcy is using his brain and not just doing the splashy or popular thing.

I personally think that out of this year's free agent class - Brian Campbell, Jochen Hecht, Dmitri Kalinin - the Sabres have already re-signed the player they absolutely could not afford to let go.

Also, doesn't Brian Campbell bringing negotiations to a halt because he wants to focus on the team support management's long-held assertion that negotiating during the season is a distraction? How come no one's laughing at Campbell for saying that but management got crucified for it? Am I the only fan in the world who repeatedly takes the side of management over players? Probably. Up with The Man!


Mark B said...

Soupy has rubbed me the wrong way with his public posturing about his contract. Say what you will about Chris and Danny, but at least they kept everything private.

As in the case with Marty, now that the Sabres know Soupy probably won't come back, I expect some kind of trade.

Anne said...

I'll join you with the Man, Heather. I get so frustrated with people who think it's all on management when a player isn't re-signed. There are actually two sides, and maybe Sabres management is making fair offers, but they aren't exactly what Campbell wants. He's allowed to reject or counter, and the team is allowed to do the same! It's also reasonable for Campbell to want to see what he can get from up to 30 potential employers instead of taking what his current employer offers.

I'm also with you on the Hecht/Kalinin/Campbell choice.

Great blog, btw.

Meg said...

I definitely agree that there's a double standard when it comes to the fans views on players vs. management. I think it's probably because it's the players who we watch and cheer for.

Mark, I also agree that I hate public posturing--on either side--about contracts. I'd much rather it remain private.

Sara and Anne said...

My heart says I want Soupy to stay, but its just this weird post-lockout love I have for the players that made me love hockey like I did before the lockout.

When you throw in the fact that if we keep Soupy it could lead to us losing Pominville, the Goose or even Miller, I say au revoir, Skating Tomato. The Blackhawks need an offensive defenseman for the PP and they could use Soupy. I say lookout for a trade in early February.

If we lose Kalinin in the off-season, I don't think anyone will be sorry to see him go. Sekera had some good ice time earlier in the season (he also had some bad ice time, but i digress), its reasonable to think that he might be full-time roster-ready by next season.

Anne of SaraandAnne

Heather B. said...

Anne, thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you enjoy reading and I'm doubly glad for your comment! There are just so many things that factor into negotiations even beyond money that I hate seeing management get nailed for everything that doesn't go right. I think they probably have bungled things in the past but I think they're doing the right thing in regards to Campbell by not overpaying.

Meg, you're probably right that fans are naturally drawn to the players' side because that who we see on the ice. That's who we make the emotional connection with and it's always hard to see a player you love go, no matter what the circumstance.

Anne of SaraandAnne, as a fan I do have some affection for Soupy and I think he's fun to watch (usually). I just don't think he's 5 million plus a year fun :-)

Becky said...

Perhaps if Campbell negotiated himself instead of listening to his agent whisper in his ear "you can get more" this would be settled. Not for Ovechkin type money (ha), but settled.

(Pretend I hit enter 3X :)- in all fairness, Bfloblog did get groggy there for a while)

Heather B. said...

Becky, I'm reading Martin Brodeur's book right now and the first section is about his contract negotiations and how he went around his first and only agent and negotiated himself because he felt like his agent was just looking at $$$ and not listening to what he wanted. It's very interesting. And kind of refreshing.

(Pretend I hit enter 3X :)- in all fairness, Bfloblog did get groggy there for a while)

I swear it seemed like nothing was posting! I'm glad I finally gave up or it would've posted 8 or 9 times :-)

Meg said...

If we lose Kalinin in the off-season, I don't think anyone will be sorry to see him go.

Well, if he can be signed for reasonable money (as in, about what he's making now) I would be, but I do realize that I'm in the minority there. Still, I'm an anyone. :)

amy said...

One thing that I think gets overlooked by both the fans and the players themselves is that there's a trend for players to have career years in the year before their contracts are signed. It happened last year for Roy and Vanek (though to be fair, neither one has had a long career, so they have nowhere to go but up), and its happening this year for Soupy. Then, because of that one year, the player thinks he's entitled to massive amounts of money.

When you throw in the fact that if we keep Soupy it could lead to us losing Pominville, the Goose or even Miller, I say au revoir

The core of this team was developed in Rochester at the same time. Pommers, Goose, Ryan, and Miller all were down in the minors together. I wonder if management is going to try to keep that core together for as long as possible.

Grumps said...

When (or if) Campbell puts up Lidstrom like numbers then he's worth 6 mil per. But he's only scored 4 goals! How does that make him an elite?

I agree - cut him loose and get something of value before he walks on July 1.

Kate said...

I had pretty much made my peace with Soupy heading out into the big wide world of free agency, but all of this ruckus on the interwebs is making me feel spooked.

I hate this side of hockey.

Becky said...

I read somewhere (probably Bucky) that Brian Campbell should be up for the good sportmanship award because he only has 2 penalty minutes this season.

2 minutes? So no desperation hooks to prevent a goal? No big hits that might end up looking like a penalty (Umberger)? No nasty checks?

I think a lot of the time these things come from excess adrenaline, not malice. I guess Campbell uses his up being on the ice 25+ minutes a night.