LAS VEGAS -- There's a simple reason why Brian Campbell only took three minor penalties this season.
"I hate to sit in the penalty box," Campbell told NHL.com, punctuating that simple statement with a hearty chuckle.
There is also a more complex reason why Campbell took just three penalties despite playing more per game -- 26:53 -- than any other player in the League during the 2011-12 regular season. It has to do with the way the Florida Panthers defenseman can sense what is going to happen on the ice before it even unfolds.
"Skating is one of my stronger points and I think I have gotten better over the years with my positioning," he said Wednesday after winning the Lady Byng Award for gentlemanly play at the NHL Awards. "I find I don't need to take those penalties.
"I'd rather be out there helping my team. I think it goes along with hockey smarts. Sometimes I see penalties that are taken that can hurt a team and that aren't necessary and I feel I have a good grasp of the rules and I get (angry) when I do get a penalty."
How angry? He still remembers two of the three penalties he took this season.
"I still remember when I shot that puck over -- I don't know if it was my first penalty of the season -- but I wasn't too happy about it," Campbell said. "It was a dumb play by myself.
"I don't remember one of them. I remember shooting the puck over [the glass] in Boston, one was against Washington and I don't remember the other one. They are few and far between, which I do like."
Just for the record, Campbell's indiscretions were as follows:
Dec. 8 at Boston, delay of game.
Dec. 27 against Toronto, holding against Carl Gunnarsson.
Feb. 17 against Washington, a slash to Troy Brouwer.
It is that relatively clean rap sheet that earned him the Byng, becoming the first defenseman since 1954 to earn the award. That season, it was Red Kelly that won the award for the third time in his career. Kelly actually won a fourth Byng in 1961, but he was playing center that season.
Campbell knew that history as well as he knows his own penalty history.
"I heard about it from my dad and then researched it a bit -- who Red Kelly was and stuff. It was fun to do the research," Campbell said. "It's crazy that it has been that long and its pretty special to win it for myself.
"It definitely is a great honor. There's a lot of people that I looked up to and there's elite, elite level players that could have had a chance and maybe at some point should have won the award, but I'm glad that we broke the trend as a defenseman and we'll see where it goes from here."
He hopes that his victory ends the bias against defensemen in the Lady Byng voting.
"Obviously, it is about how you play and then your sportsmanship," he said. "I think everybody thinks defensemen are supposed to be bruisers. I've never been a bruiser in my whole career. I think sometimes I try to not let that bother me what people, fans, think of defensemen and that was never me.
"I just kept going with my game plan and it has been successful for me."
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