Tuesday, February 26, 2008

One Last Spin-O-Rama

Brian Campbell and a seventh round pick for Steve Bernier and a first round pick.

The hockey talk first: A lot of people seem to be a little disappointed but while it's not a great trade, I don't think it's a terrible one either. There are a few factors you have to keep in mind. One, I think GMs maybe finally learned a lesson after so many of last year's rentals were a bust and came into this season willing to give up less for them. (Yes, of course they learn a lesson right as it would have benefited Buffalo.) Two, a huge part of the league is still in the playoff hunt so while teams want to pick up pieces, they don't want to give up a lot of roster players for them. And three, everyone knew Buffalo needed to move Campbell or risk losing him from nothing.

Those things considered, I think we did okay. We got a kid who, while inconsistent up to this point, is definitely talented, has size, uses his size, and is still young and cheap. He has a nice accent, I love the way he pronounces "Pominville," and people call him "Big Bear." What's not to like? And while San Jose's first round pick is not likely to be high, I think the first round is supposed to be fairly deep this year (I might be making that up) and Rochester is getting fairly thin so any pick is a good pick, especially a first rounder.

Now that the madness is over - I'm ignoring all the "WAY TO GO DARCY YOU SUCK AND NO ONE SHOULD BE CHEERING FOR THIS TEAM EVER AGAIN" crazies - I find myself feeling both happy and sad. Happy because now that I know the Sabres aren't going to give Soupy a ridiculous contract I suddenly remember all the things I really liked about him. It's been a rough year for me and ol' Soup so I am glad about that. Sad because well... it's sad.

I don't think there's really a bad guy here. For me this is very much like the Jay McKee situation. There was such a large difference in money and/or terms between what the Sabres were offering and what others will offer that it's tough to blame Campbell for going. But what other teams will offer is so out-of-whack for what Campbell's really worth, that it's tough to blame the Sabres for not matching. If you put Campbell on an island all by himself I don't think he's worth that kind of money. If you look at him as part of a puzzle that involves a lot of different pieces and contracts, it's even more questionable.

But I'm sad because I think everyone on both sides was sincere. I think Soupy did love his time here and loved the fans and loves his teammates and respects Darcy and Lindy. I think Darcy (and Lindy) do like Soupy and do feel invested in his career and are proud of how much he's grown as a player since he was drafted. I think if they could've waved a magic wand and come to an agreement that made both sides happy, they would have and I think they're all genuinely sad that it doesn't work that way.

So here, in honor of Brian Campbell, is a portion of a post I wrote about him last summer (6/17/07) back when things weren't all crazy and riled up. Some of the sentiment has changed - you might want to strike that last line - but when I wrote it, I absolutely meant it. And I mean a lot of it still.

Why I Love Hockey #5 - Brian Campbell
I'll admit I was first drawn to Brian Campbell for a ridiculous reason - he's a red-head. But over the past few years I've found more defensible reasons to love Brian Campbell although most of them still don't really have much to do with hockey. Don't get me wrong - I do enjoy watching him play. He's quick and creative and there are times I actually mistake him for Maxim Afinogenov of all people before realizing what I thought was a 61 is actually a 51. It's been fun watching him really begin to put things together over the past couple of seaons, just as fans in Buffalo - and probably more than a few people within the organization - were beginning to think he was never going to stick at the NHL level.

But that's all secondary. I really just like Brian Campbell the person. In a league full of humble, down-to-earth guys, Brian still manages to stick out as particularly down-to-earth. I love watching him interviewed because he's very laid-back and really funny. And not funny in the desperate, trying-too-hard, overly prepared kind of way that many pro athletes are - just easily and naturally funny. I love watching him play because he looks like he's having so much fun. I adore Chris Drury and I hope he stays in Buffalo but he's so somber all the time. While it's a little unfair because I know that's just Drury's personality, he often looks like he's working in a coal mine instead of getting paid millions of dollars to play a game. Atleast once a game there's a shot of Brian on the ice or the bench with a huge "I can't believe I'm getting PAID for this" grin on his face. A fantasic, ear-to-ear, face splitting grin. I was thrilled when he made the All-Star game because there was no doubt in my mind that a) he really never did think that he'd be an All-Star starter unlike some guys who say that but don't mean it and b) he would have a blast. Miller, Vanek, Tallinder, and Lydman are on my "Cannot be traded because they're too important" list. Brian is on my "Cannot be traded because I'd miss him too darn much" list.

Soupy sounds his barbaric yawp.

Soupy, I'll kinda miss you, you know? Back when I was first trying to understand hockey, you were one of the things I loved most about it and for that I'll always owe you one.


Meg said...

You're right about the fact that this is supposed to be a deep draft. Lots of good players supposedly. Of course expectations don't always match the eventual reality, but nevertheless it's a good year to have extra picks.

andrew said...

Heather, you can still cheer for him as a Shark! At least he didn't go to the Sens or the Leafs or some other godawful team that would require you to hate him.

Heather B. said...

Well, andrew, it's like this... As much as I like Soupy, I do not want him winning a Stanley Cup. Maybe that makes me a bad person but what can I say? :P So you see, he's actually screwed up my WC allegiance! Even when he's not here, Soupy has me conflicted!

Mark B said...

While I was hoping we would get more in this trade and perhaps make another trade that we weren't forced to do, I am okay with this situation. I don't think Soupy was worth even 5 million and I now feel pretty good about keeping Ryan, Poms, Staffy, Paille and Goose.

Plus I'm pretty darned excited about getting a young kid who leads his team in hits and can put the puck in the net occasionally too. He seems like on of those "diamonds in the rough" that are in their current team's doghouse that Darcy spots so well (See Briere, Daniel). I'm hopeful! I know arguably we got worst today, but we shall see how important Soupy was to the team and maybe, just maybe with this circus over, the other players will step it up. It can't get worse than last night's performance.

And as much as Brian ticked me off the last few months, I did enjoy watching him develop and wish him well as long as he doesn't beat us or win the Cup!

GregK said...

Heather, you are right about him being a really easy going, likeable guy. I had the pleasure of playing golf with him for one hole at a charity tournament a few years ago, and the best time I had that day was the 5 minutes we spent teeing off. Actually, that 5 minutes was also the worst time because Eric Boulton was there too, and I never did like him because, to borrow a phrase from you if I may, he's a dick. :p

coolman856 said...

Lest we forget the main reason that he is now worth $6 million a year...the Umberger hit.


twoeightnine said...

That's the one thing that I've never quite figured out. That hit, that one hit made Soupy into a hard hitting defenseman. Everything I've read over the past few weeks has been about how well he hits.

Sam said...

wow I loved that post. Everything about it. You encompassed all that I hate about VS.. well maybe not all, but most of what I was feeling last night. Egads they drive me nutso!

And you stated very well your love/frustration/bittersweetness towards Soupy.

I didn't have the pleasure? of seeing him develop so much as I was only in Buffalo for one of those formative years, and last year, which he was very good and finally coming into his own. I used to like Soupy, I really did. This year he makes me want to scream and tear my hair out more often than not.

He's overrated. And clearly he didn't want to stay in Buffalo badly enough or he would have found a way to make it work. I'm glad another team had to shoulder his soon-to-be-ridiculously-overpriced salary demands so the Sabres weren't forced into a desperate choice of signing him for way too much or losing him for nothing this summer.

I dont know much about the new dude, but I'll take him. :)

Kate said...

Aww, this is a nice post Heather.

Stephanie said...

Any chance you were reading Whitman as you extolled the virtues of dearly departed Soupy? :) "Barbaric yawp" is one of Whitman's best phrases, and Soupy definitely fits it!

Karen said...

I think "Bernie" is going to be a nice fit with us. We needed another big forward and he hits.. so that will make a difference too.
Yes I will miss Soup.. but I think with the money he was offered, I can't feel sorry for him. He was offered more than I can ever make in a lifetime and he didnt like it cause it wasn't for six years.. gah.
But yeah.. I'll be bummed.. but we're gonna be ok.

Vanek's Hair said...

Nice Job. It is OK to admit missing Brian Campbell. I will too. But the money he was asking for was way too high. Throw in the contract that Tampa gave Dan Boyle (which showed the economic foresight of a crack addict), and Campbell had to moved. Boyle got more than Phaneuf?! Really?!!! I guess that whole "setting the market" theory was blown out of the water.

In the spirit of saying good things about Brian Campbell, I had the pleasure of meeting him once. He was at the Pepsi Center watching an old pal coach in a tournament. He (Campbell) was very gracious with the kids who came up to him, and chuckled when I asked if he could play with my beer league team. He said "I probably don't have the legs to keep up with you guys."