UPDATE: In another twist, the Hawks have decided to play Brian Campbell and Trevor van Riemsdyk, giving the team seven defensemen against Columbus. Campbell’s career games streak is extended to 391 games.
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Brian Campbell could have his streak of 390 consecutive NHL games played snapped by a healthy scratch. The defenseman is expected to be in the press box Friday for the Blackhawks’ game against the Blue Jackets, which would be the first time he’s missed an NHL regular season game since 2011.
Campbell with Rozsival on the "fourth" pairing. Both likely to be scratches tomorrow. #Blackhawks— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 20, 2016
The surprising move comes as coach Joel Quenneville “tinkers” with his lineup after an uneven start to the season. While there’s still a chance Campbell plays against Columbus, all signs point toward a night off.
Campbell was Chicago’s biggest free agent signing during the 2016 offseason after turning down bigger offers to take just $1.5 million in base salary from the Hawks. He showed his excitement after signing and recently called Chicago his “hometown.”
None of those things necessitate Campbell playing, but there’s a reason he was a hyped signing over the summer even at his age. The Panthers were better with him on the ice last season, and while he hasn’t been as good to open this season, that’s only four games.
The defenseman doesn’t seem thrilled about the situation.
“It’s not my call. I don’t make the decisions and that’s up to the coaching staff,” Campbell said of not practicing in the top six on Thursday.
So, you’re probably wondering why coach Joel Quenneville might be doing this. The most obvious answer is that Campbell is 37 years old, the Blackhawks are on the first night of a back-to-back, and they’re trying to rest a veteran who hasn’t looked amazing so far this season.
Additionally, with Trevor van Riemsdyk reportedly on the trade block, he can’t be in the press box doing nothing but hurting his value. When Q says, “We don’t want the same two guys sitting out all the time,” you can see what he might be getting at.
Still, not a lot of people saw this coming, seemingly including Campbell himself. Having his incredible iron man streak snapped not by injury, but Quenneville’s tinkering, is an unexpected twist so early in the season.