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"A" Meaningful Letter

Wednesday, 09.20.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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"A" Meaningful Letter
Brian Campbell has basically grown up a Buffalo Sabre. Drafted at the tender age of 17 during the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Campbell passed each of life's under-30 milestones wearing a Sabres sweater.

So it's easy to understand why Monday night's preseason game was a little more special for the 27-year-old defensemen than most. Paired with new addition, Jaroslav Spacek, the kid from nearby Strathroy, Ont. skated around the Air Canada Centre in Toronto with an "A" stitched on his uniform for the first time in his NHL career.

It may have been just a letter on his jersey, but being named an alternate captain symbolized a coming-of-age moment for a player that fans have watched mature throughout the years.

"To me it shows the coaches kind of think of me [as a leader]," said Campbell. "It's always nice to be rewarded in different ways. Even though it was just a preseason game, it's nice to know [what the coaches think], especially when you've grown up in the organization from day one."

Ten years have passed since he first became a member of the Sabres organization and Campbell's hard work in the past is paying dividends in the present.

After splitting his first three seasons between Rochester and Buffalo, Campbell has emerged as a go-to player on the Sabres power-play unit, a skilled two-way defenseman that is responsible in his own zone, and at times, a devastating hitter despite what his less than intimidating 6-foot, 190 lbs. frame would suggest.

"As soon as I started getting playing time [during 2005-06], my confidence started to grow," said Campbell, who appeared in just 49 games through his first three years in the league. "When Toni [Lydman] went down with an injury [early in the regular season], I really started to gain confidence by playing on the power play."

Confidence makes a good player great, and Campbell's performance during the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs was just that.

His thunderous hit on RJ Umberger in Game 1 against Philadelphia in the first round became a signature moment for Buffalo's post-season run and set the tone for the series.

When the Sabres defensive corps was riddled with injuries in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff turned to Campbell to shoulder the burden. The defenseman answered by leading all skaters in those two contests with over 30 minutes of ice time.

"I've worked hard and have gotten some opportunities from the team," said Campbell. "Would I have like to have had those chances earlier? Of course you would, but sometimes things don't work out that way. I was able to take advantage of the situation when I finally got the opportunity."

With his increased status on the team, Campbell is exploring new territory in his career.

Entering this season, he is no longer viewed as a fringe defenseman on the Sabres blueline and has been slated by Ruff to join Spacek on Buffalo's second defensive pairing.

Leadership is now expected from the young kid who is just a few years removed from being the follower.

"I've learned from the past and have really grown up," said Campbell. "It's nice, because I've really come to feel like this is my family now."

It's really not hard to explain why a letter could mean so much to someone who has been a part of something for so long.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82