Brian Campbell 'ecstatic' to reunite with Blackhawks
It's a match made in hockey heaven.
Brian Campbell's decision Friday to return to the Blackhawks after five years is a huge coup for general manager Stan Bowman, and an equally sweet deal for Campbell, who returns to play in the city where his wife grew up and they are raising two young girls.
As NHL free agency opened, Campbell -- a puck-moving defenseman who was courted by at least two other teams for more money -- agreed to a one-year deal with the Hawks. The contract is worth $1.5 million and he will earn another $750,000 if he plays in 10 games, according to ESPN's Pierre LeBrun.
"Obviously last time when I was a free agent, money played a factor in it," said Campbell, who didn't miss a single game in his five years with Florida. "This time it was what was best for me and for my family.
"I have two young daughters. One's going into preschool -- and I know preschool sometimes isn't a big deal -- but I've been welcomed into the neighborhood that I live in. It's just where I wanted to be; it's where my heart was.
"It just makes our life perfect. We're ecstatic about being here."
And the Hawks are ecstatic about his return. Landing Campbell, who has played 1,105 NHL games (including playoffs), shows how important it is to have a team capable of winning the Stanley Cup every season.
"It's obviously an honor the fact that guys believe in what we're trying to do in Chicago," Bowman said. "We're certainly excited about that. … I'm sure he had other opportunities. It speaks a lot to the kind of person that Brian is."
Campbell played for the Hawks from 2008-11, won a title with them and still resides in the western suburbs. The 37-year-old Ontario native won't rack up goals (he has averaged 5.3 the past three seasons), but his Corsi-for percentage of 52.7 the last five years bodes well for a Hawks team in desperate need of upgrading the blue line.
With Campbell, the Hawks can trot him out every night with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk.
"Our main focus was to sign Brian," said Bowman, who doesn't expect to add another player of significance in free agency. "It's important to have a strong group on defense. I really like the mixture that we have now."
The sixth D-man slot -- instead of the fifth AND sixth spots -- now can go to whomever impresses Joel Quenneville and his staff the most. For now, Michal Kempny, a 25-year-old who spent last season in the KHL, has the inside track to that spot.
Campbell's versatility will be a huge plus for Quenneville as he can play on the power play and the penalty kill. He averaged 22:17 of ice time in 2015-16 and 23:13 the year before.
As for his role in Chicago?
"I think it's going to be to come in and put up a lot of minutes and be a guy that they can rely on every night," Campbell said. "I have a lot left in the tank. I feel great. I feel like I had a really good season this past year. …
"If I'm in a top-four role, great. If I'm not, I accept whatever they give me and I'll work hard. There's no egos here. For me, it's about doing what's best to win.
"I know how old I am, but I definitely don't feel that old."
Odds and ends:
• Andrew Ladd agreed to a seven-year deal with the New York Islanders worth $38.5 million. Ladd came to the Hawks from Winnipeg at last season's trade deadline.
• The Hawks placed defenseman David Rundblad on buyout waivers Friday. Rundblad, who had one year left on his deal, will cost $133,333 against the cap this year and $183,333 next year.
• The Hawks signed three other players Friday: forwards Sam Carrick, Spencer Abbott and Pierre-Cedric Labrie. The 6-foot, 188-pound Carrick had 16 goals and 18 assists in 52 games with the AHL's Toronto Marlies last season. The 24-year-old has played in 19 NHL games with Toronto. Abbott, 28, played in the Swedish Hockey League last season and 19 games with the Rockford IceHogs in 2014-15. Labrie is a nine-year AHL player who played with Rockford the last two seasons.