All-Star: Campbell Striving To Be Better
Tuesday, 01.09.2007 / 12:00 AM / News
On Tuesday, Campbell joined Sabres co-captain Daniel Briere and goaltender Ryan Miller as starters for the Eastern Conference at the 2007 NHL All-Star Game on January 24 in Dallas, TX.
"Buffalo's back on the map in a big way," said Campbell. "The fans have really taken to this and it's their team. We owe a lot to them.
"This is a different world for me that I'm not used to. I'm going to hide behind [Miller] when we go into the locker room and try not to get noticed too much."
Being noticed is exactly what led Campbell to where he is today.
There has been a few bumps in the road along Campbell's journey to All-Star status, make no mistake. A sixth-round selection (156th overall) by Buffalo in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, Campbell was an afterthought in his first five seasons with Buffalo.
Before the NHL lockout erased 2004-05, Campbell had appeared in just 114 games in half a decade.
"I knew I could be a good player in this league and getting confidence last year really helped," said Campbell.
A smaller player - five-foot-11, 191-pounds - Campbell returned from his lockout perch in Finland to a new NHL that was focused on speed and skill. Suddenly, he was the prototypical defenseman that teams desired. His impact was instantaneous.
Campbell set career-highs in games played (79), goals (12), assists (32) and points (44) during the 2005-06 season. With the statistics came gratification for years of hard work.
"He's made the coach look pretty bad for what he did 14 months ago," joked head coach Lindy Ruff referring to Campbell's early season benchings in the 05-06 season. "He has obviously come a long ways. It really has become a skating game. Brian is a tremendous skater and really fits what the league is all about.
"In the absence of some key personnel late in the playoffs last year and throughout the start of this season, when Brian was playing 30 minutes a game, him playing at an elite level is probably one of the main reasons where we are at right now."
Since his first days with the Rochester Americans, Campbell has striven to become a complete player. It is that determination which has fostered the defenseman's growth.
"I'm not surprised," said Ruff concerning Cambell's performance over the last two seasons. "With his work ethic, he just continues to get better. We've seen that process since day one.
"You grow these guys up in the system and you spend a lot of time with them. For the most part, they've earned their way."
Campbell has received the most guidance during his rollercoaster career from his parents. A native of nearby Strathroy, Ontario, Campbell has had the benefits of a constant support system only a few hours away.
Unlike many transplants, Campbell's family has had the opportunity to attend nearly 80 per cent of his professional games in Buffalo.
"I owe a lot to what my mom and dad have done for me," said Campbell. "I'm hard on myself but they're always there to remind me that I'm the same person from Strathroy, Ontario.
"When you set these types of goals and you reach them, you want more. If you don't, I don't know if you're not a winner, but you're not striving to be the best."