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Defending 51 Phantom

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I'm not sure why I feel the need to do this, other than both McClure and I were puzzled at the amount of vitriol spewed at what has probably been our most consistent performer throughout the playoffs.  Yes, Campbell didn't have a very good game yesterday, neither did about 15 others.  The blame does not go to him for the shorty, however.  Campbell hit the blue line with speed, chipped it past the d, and was the most likely to go and retrieve it, which he did.  it's up to one of the forwards to cover his point, none of them did. 

But let's get to the bigger issue here.  Chicago is such a strange town.  Fans bitch when the teams don't go out and splash cash, and then hate the players they do bring in (look at Milton Bradley right now).  Remember what the Hawks needed this past summer:  A proven, offensive defenseman who could run the power play, because there weren't any coming through the system.  So let's look at the Top-10 scoring d-men in the league and their salaries.

1.  Mike Green- $6 mil salary, 5.25 cap hit.  Also developed by this team, who could sign to an extension before he hit it big.

2.  Andrei Markov-5.75 million

3.  Nicklas Lidstrom-7.4 million

4.  Scott Niedermayer- 6.75 million

5.  Brian Rafalski-6 million

6.  Dan Boyle- 6.67 million

7.  Mark Streit- 4.1 million

8.  Shea Weber- 4.5 million

9.  Sheldon Souray- 6.25 millino salary, 5.4 cap hit.

10.  Brian Campbell- 7 million

So on this list, there's only two defensemen who are just as good in their own zone, in Lidstrom and Niedermayer (Rafalski's ok, it helps that the greatest D-man of all time is backing him up).  Green, Markov, Boyle, and Souray are just as clueless in their own zone as Phantom can be, and Streit was until this season.  Weber's and Green's salary are held down as they've never hit the open market. 

So if you want to argue that Campbell's overpaid, fine, by this list he would be, but by a mere 1-1.5 million dollars.  If you want to make the argument that the Hawks should have opted for Streit, okay, but prove to me you were saying that last June and July, when I only heard brief murmurings of that.  It is a simple fact that the going rate for an established, attacking blueliner is north of 6 million. 

Campbell is what he is, high-risk, high-reward, and he's going to be infuriating at times.  But he helps this team win more often than not, and next season when he's used to the pressure of the contract, I think you're all going to be very impressed.