Though some around the league were hoping he could be a late addition to their defense corps, veteran Brian Campbell has decided to call it quits. The 38-year old defenseman has announced his retirement, ending a 17-year NHL career. He will join the Chicago Blackhawks’ front office staff in a business operations role.
It all started for Campbell in 1997 when he was selected by Buffalo in the sixth round, 156th-overall. An undersized skater from Strathroy, Ontario, he’d yet to put up the outstanding numbers for the Ottawa 67’s that showed the world he could succeed as an elite puck-moving defender. In his final year of junior, he scored 87 points in 62 games and was poised for success in the professional ranks. After a couple of years bouncing up and down between the Sabres and Rochester Americans of the AHL, he joined the NHL squad full-time and never looked back.
In 1,082 games, Campbell scored 504 points and was a possession superhero on the ice. His uncanny ability to retrieve pucks and immediately find a way out of the zone, through his own excellent skating ability or an incredibly accurate first pass quickly moved him up depth charts and eventually earned him an eight-year, $57MM contract from the Blackhawks. Though he’d spend many of those years in Florida, his impact on Chicago was clear as he won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2010 and would return to play his final year there in 2016-17.
Still effective, the Blackhawks have clearly decided to go in a different direction and Campbell will instead join them in a marketing role instead. His impact on the Chicago community and all across the country (and even the world) has been immeasurable, as his charity Campbell for Kids has raised well over $1.5MM for children with disabilities and special needs. He and the foundation were regular donors to Chicago children’s charity groups, something he will likely continues as he moves into a different role with the team.
One of the best late round picks to play in the league over the past few decades, Campbell will go down as an excellent if not elite defenseman in the league. His fifth-place Norris finish in 2008 was the closest he came to the trophy, though he did win a Lady Byng award for sportsmanship in 2011.
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