Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson struck the first major deal at the trade deadline. Earlier today, Wilson acquired two-time National Hockey League All-
Star defenseman Brian Campbell and a 2008 seventh round pick from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for right wing Steve Bernier and a first round pick in 2008.
Campbell, 28, is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has scored 40 or more points from the backend for three straight seasons.
“Brian’s a guy that gets the puck out of your zone quick,” Wilson said. “He’s a quarterback on the power play and he will complement our group really well.”
In 2007-08, Campbell has 43 points (five goals and 38 assists) in 63 games and is third among NHL defensemen in assists and seventh in points. In 2006-07, Campbell set a career high with 48 points and a plus-28 plus/minus rating.
“I’m obviously excited,” Campbell said. “I’ll get ready and play tomorrow night.”
In the past two seasons, Campbell has appeared in 34 playoff games and posted 13 points. In each of those years, the Sabres advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Campbell was an All-Star at the World Junior Championships in 1999, a Major Junior First All-Star Team member and the 1999 Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year.
Campbell’s transition to San Jose will be helped by some familiar faces.
“I played with Curtis Brown and Mike Grier in Buffalo,” Campbell said. “I keep in touch with both. I just talked to Curtis a little bit ago. He and his wife are good friends of mine. I’ve played summer hockey with Joe Thornton
since the age of seven or eight.”
The newest Shark recently ran into his future teammates during the Sharks trek to New York City.
“I saw a bunch of them in New York last week at a restaurant,” Campbell said.
He is not extremely familiar with the Sharks with the exception of Buffalo’s 7-1 win at HP Pavilion in December.
“I don’t know a whole lot about them because of the structure of the schedule,” Campbell said. “I’m going to have to learn (things) pretty quickly. (Chemistry for defensemen) is probably not as bad as it is for forwards. You’ve only got to get used to one guy instead of a couple. I feel I can fit in pretty quick.”
When Buffalo Coach Lindy Ruff pulled Campbell aside at a morning practice to give him the news, Campbell was a bit shocked at first, which isn’t surprising considering it was his first trade.
“I had a feeling it was coming, but I didn’t’ know,” Campbell said. “It hit home pretty hard.”
After a full season of contract talks, Campbell would like to focus on the ice instead of his impending free agent status.
“I always listen to anything,” Campbell said. “To be honest, I wouldn’t mind focusing on hockey. It’s dragged on me a bit. I’d like to see how San Jose is and if it fits what I want.”
If better weather is part of his fit, then “Soupy” will enjoy the Silicon Valley. Today, the skies are sunny and the temperature is 60 degrees. Meanwhile in Buffalo, it’s snowing with temperatures below the freezing mark.
Of course, there’s also the atmosphere at HP Pavilion. Campbell knows how loud HP Pavilion can get in the postseason.
“I remember the playoff series against Detroit and how loud that building can get,” Campbell said. “There is no better feeling than that (playoff crowds). I’d like to get past that last little hump.”GOOD LUCK
Wilson did wish good luck to Bernier, who had spent the past three seasons with San Jose.
“We wish Steve the best,” Wilson said. “He’s worked really hard for us and we think he will go on and have a tremendous career.”
The Sharks will play their first game with Campbell Wednesday night in Columbus at 4 p.m. PST. The game will be carried on FSN Bay Area, 98.5 KFOX and sjsharks.com.