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Campoli excited to join Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger
Chris Campoli thought he might get traded before Monday's NHL trade deadline, but neither that nor being traded once before made the process any less hectic the second time around.
The first time that 26-year old Campoli was traded (Feb. 20, 2009), the New York Islanders dealt the puck-moving defenseman to the Ottawa Senators. Monday afternoon, Ottawa traded him to the Chicago Blackhawks -- along with a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2012 Entry Draft – in exchange for center Ryan Potulny and a conditional second-round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft.
Both times, Campoli has felt a little frazzled by the news – even though this time, he half expected it.
"Getting traded is kind of a weird thing," he said on a conference call Monday evening. "It starts from the beginning, when your cell phone's going off every minute. I'm just focused on getting everything ready and trying to gather my thoughts and get everything settled (before joining the Blackhawks)."
A big part of the transition will be getting his work visa completed, since Campoli is a Canadian citizen who's coming to work for an American-based team. Blackhawks Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman said the team is "trying to expedite" the process and Campoli will join the team as soon as it's finished.
He can't join the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks soon enough. Not only are they locked in a tight race with a handful of teams for a spot in the Western Conference playoffs, but Chicago also lost defenseman Jordan Hendry to season-ending knee surgery after he was hurt in Sunday night's 4-3 shootout win against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Combined with losing veteran Nick Boynton to the Philadelphia Flyers via the waiver wire this past weekend, Hendry's injury put Chicago in a precarious position as trade-deadline day started Monday morning. Even Campoli and his agent took notice of the situation late Sunday night, prompting their own speculation.
"We knew it was a possibility that I could be moved (after) seeing that and Chicago being somewhat open about being in the market for a defenseman," said Campoli, who has 3 goals and 14 points in 58 games. "I thought there might be a fit there, but you never know. It turned out that Stan may have been thinking the same way."
Bowman, however, said the process to land Campoli was not merely prompted by Hendry's injury. He said the Hawks had Campoli in their sights for awhile, mainly because of his young age and playing style. Campoli seems to fit the Blackhawks' up-tempo style well.
"He fits into that category," said Bowman, who also likes Campoli's versatility to play in multiple situations, including special teams. "He complements the defensemen we have. His style of play is similar to the style we play. He doesn't just want to get the puck out of the zone. He likes to make a pass out of the zone – a direct pass, if possible. Our forwards like to play with defensemen who like to play that way."
The feeling is mutual for Campoli, who sees a great potential fit with the defending Stanley Cup champions.
"There's so many positives in the situation for me," he said. "I'm a puck-moving defenseman and I know from playing against Chicago they're a team that's an up-tempo, puck-moving team – and there's a fit there. I'm excited about the whole thing right now."
It didn't hurt that Campoli will now be thrust into the thick of a heated Western Conference playoff race after playing with the Senators – who are mired in last place in the Eastern Conference. Campoli is happy to be headed to a place that's still fighting for a playoff spot.
"In the past, I've played on some teams that have struggled," said Campoli, a 2004 seventh-round pick of the New York Islanders who has 32 goals and 128 points in 378 NHL games with the Islanders and Senators. "I can now have a realistic conversation about (winning) a Stanley Cup now. I'm really excited about that. There's so much passion in (Chicago) for the Blackhawks and I'm excited about coming over there and being a part of that."

Bowman said it likely will be for more than just this season.
Campoli becomes a restricted free agent after this season and had a $1.4 million salary cap hit , according to Chicago will only have to pay a pro-rated portion of this year's salary and could bring him back next season at a reasonable price.
"Chris is not just a rental player who's here for a couple months," Bowman said. "He's a young guy and we have his rights beyond this season. The good news for Chris is he's coming into a situation here where he's not going to be required to carry the load. We've got a lot of guys who can play a lot of minutes and he needs to complement them. I think it's a definite upgrade."
Bowman, who was also looking to add a depth center, wanted to swing another deal on Monday. The problem was the trade market, which he thought was more barren than usual because a lot of teams still in a playoff race.
"That means most teams were looking to add as opposed to looking to sell players," Bowman said. "When that happens, there's just not a lot of players in play. I'm not disappointed. Our priority was to get something done and we accomplished that."

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