With the season now over after a return to the playoffs and the Western Conference Finals, we're looking back at each player who wore the Indian Head sweater for the 08-09 Season and grading their performance. Hold on to your Spider-Man Underoos, kids, it's time for Brian Campbell.
#51 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
May 23, 1979
|2008 - Brian Campbell||82||7||45||52||5||22||4||0||1||0||108||6.5|
The Good: In his first season with the Blackhawks within his free-agent mega-deal, Brian Campbell, produced his second highest single season point output, and was 10th in the league in scoring among defenseman. Campbell was brought on to quarterback the Blackhawks' moribund power play, which he did successfully, boosting its conversion percentage from 15.9% with 58 power play goals in the 2007-2008 season to 19.3% and 70 total power play goals. In the playoffs, Campbell was arguably the Hawks best defenseman, playing positionally sound in his own end (for a change), becoming a one man trap-buster with his speed through the neutral zone, and directing traffic on a league best 27.9% power play in the second season.
The Bad: Sam covered a lot of the points a couple weeks ago that I'm sure will be brought up in the comments here, so I'll spare everyone from rehashing a lot of it. But it should be known that I'm pretty much in agreement with Sam - he is what he is, and the salary is the market rate for his level of point production from the blue line, and much like Huet, he's not going anywhere. He has a tendency to run around in his own end, can be out-muscled by larger forwards, and tends to give up chances going the other way when getting overly aggressive while attacking. All of these manifested themselves at some point during the year, and the latter of them unfortunately occurred in overtime of the Western Conference Finals. His atrocious stretch in March also needs to be mentioned, but the entire team was floundering at that point. And as he has proven throughout his career, Campbell needs a stable partner to be effective. It was no coincidence that once Matt Walker returned to being Matt Walker during the aformentioned late-season stretch, Campbell's weaknesses were exacerbated. Much like Les Claypool of Primus needs Larry Lalonde to deftly and skillfully fill in the gaps during his insane interludes, Brian Campbell similarly needs a positionally sound, reasonably quick partner to stay at home and cover for him. Hopefully the Hawks have found such a man in Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Nicknames: 51 Phantom, Soupy
Playoff Beard Strength: One of the few post-season veterans on a young Hawks squad had a full and fiery red beard to reflect his previous experience.
Related Photoshops: I seem to recall one being a Page 6 of the Indian at some point during the March Death Spiral, but I'll have to verify with Sam
The Grade: Contract notwithstanding, Campbell came to Chicago as a completely known quantity, and given both his strengths and weaknesses, did exactly what he was asked to do, which was to provide offense and quarterback the power play, as well as provide experience and perform well in the post season - which would yeild an "A" in my world normally. But Campbell stood out as particularly poor at a time when the entire team was struggling- a fairly impressive feat, which knocks him down to a B. What say you?