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!