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Five Questions: Panthers' Campbell thinking win now

by Dan Rosen's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With …" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell:

Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell has reached the point in his career where he asks himself one pertinent question.

"How many years do I have left in this League?" Campbell said, rhetorically speaking.

The answer is a bit daunting for a 36-year-old who has played in 925 games, including 299 consecutive games since joining the Panthers prior to the 2011-12 season.

Brian Campbell
Defense - FLA
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 2
SOG: 8 | +/-: 0
"I don't know," Campbell said.

That's why Campbell has one thing in mind this season.

"I want to do something special," he said. "I want to win. I've won once, but I'd like to have a taste of it again."

Campbell, who won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2010, wants to do it with the Panthers, not as a trade deadline acquisition for a contending team.

He is in the final season of an eight-year contract he signed with the Blackhawks on July 1, 2008. He has been in 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games since winning the Cup, including seven with the Panthers, but zero since 2012.

Campbell knows that if the season goes south for the Panthers he could be on the trading block. It happened to him in 2007-08 when he was with the Buffalo Sabres and was traded to the San Jose Sharks.

He said he's not yet concerned with the potential of getting traded prior to the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline because he believes in the Panthers and believes they can do something special.

"Hopefully we're doing some good things at that time," Campbell said. "Hopefully we're adding pieces to our team."

Florida is 3-2-0; after splitting a season-opening home-and-home set with the Philadelphia Flyers, they won two straight, against the Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres. In their most recent game they lost 4-2 at home to the Dallas Stars on Saturday.

They begin a three-game road trip Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. They also play at the Blackhawks and Stars this week.

Campbell spoke to about the Panthers, what he likes and sees, and what's upcoming in the following Q&A.

Here are Five Questions with…Brian Campbell:

Let's start with what is directly in front of you. It's been a decent start, but here are three tough road games coming up in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Dallas. For a young team that has had some positive and a little bit of negative so far, do you see this as a necessary and good test right now?

"Yeah, definitely, but you've got to play what lies ahead of you. I think we learned a lot from the Dallas game [Saturday]. I felt like that was a game we let get away. All these teams coming up they've got the big guns, the big lines and they take advantage of mistakes. That's something we did the other night; we made a few mistakes and obviously their big guys capitalized. Pittsburgh can do the same thing, Chicago definitely can and obviously Dallas again.

"We do have a good team but we have to make sure we put it together and keep it together."

How do you know that you have a good team? What are the signs you see now?

"I think it's some of the signs that we saw last year as well; those help out. As for maturity, guys are getting older and a year better. I think it's just even the flow of the games, the teams that we've played. We've been in the games and at some points we have dominated the games. I just feel that you can see it when we're matched up against teams, good teams, and we're not overmatched. I feel in previous years we were overmatched.

"Having a couple of big-time centers, big guys help down the middle. They're not 5-foot-10 guys; they're big guys and they can handle other teams' top guys as well."

For the past few seasons all you've heard in Florida is about young players coming along and how they're going to be there and make a difference and help, etc. They're pretty much all there now. Does it feel different around the team because of that?

"Yeah, a little bit. For older guys, you hear about it but you've got to see it. It's taken a little while to see it, but obviously you have [Aleksander] Barkov and [Nick] Bjugstad and [Jonathan] Huberdeau has improved a lot. He won the rookie of the year and struggled after that, but it set the tone for what he can be in his career. It's nice to see it.

"For us, you can't just be saying they're coming forever and ever. We've got to keep pushing the pace and hopefully these young guys can lead us along."

The opposite of hearing about young, talented players coming along is that you're a veteran player and not getting any younger, obviously. Was it hard in previous years to balance your excitement over what the future in Florida could be while also understanding that you're in the present and you need results now or you may not get them again?

"It definitely wasn't easy. We've had teams that have struggled. My first year after coming here we made it to the playoffs and I thought hopefully it was going to go up and up from there. But a few things didn't go our way, obviously a few players we lost along the way. Now it's a situation where, for me, we've got to make some hay this year.

"I'm excited for it. I believe in what we have. Hopefully we can learn from our mistakes, especially the last game against Dallas, and continue to get better."

What is it like being around other veteran guys like Willie Mitchell, Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo on a team with a lot of younger players? Are you guys sort of a band of brothers too? And what's it like now to play with Jagr?

"We're trying to let these young guys lead as well and be examples. Definitely, [Jagr] is a big part of our team and our offense, but if I'm not getting any younger, [Jagr] is definitely not getting any younger. He's played great for us. He's pretty normal for us. He's fit in really good. Around the room he's been great. Obviously you look at the history and the numbers and yeah, you step back and you are in awe, but he's fun. He likes to joke around. It's good to have him in the locker room. Definitely he can teach guys and help a lot of these young guys.

"He wants to win just as bad, but he wants to keep pushing and make everyone around him better."


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