When Brian Campbell returned to the Blackhawks last summer he made it clear that he wanted to stay and raise his family in Chicago. Campbell’s playing days are officially over, but his time with the Blackhawks is not.
Campbell announced his retirement on the Steve Cochran Show on WGN Radio 720 on Monday morning, adding that he’ll join the business side of the Blackhawks. The team said Campbell will be working with the Blackhawks “in the marketing community and [with] youth hockey initiatives.”
The veteran defenseman had two stints with the Blackhawks. He was part of the 2010 Stanley Cup team before he was traded to the Florida Panthers in the summer of 2011. Campbell signed a one-year deal with the Blackhawks last July.
The 38-year-old Campbell said the decision to retire was a bittersweet one.
“The first time you say it out loud, it hurts, but I’m excited,” Campbell said of his upcoming off-ice work with the Blackhawks. “I know I could play physically. Mentally I’m done with it a little bit. It’s a grind. I played 18 years now of pro hockey, I’m tired and a little done with that. I have two little girls… I’m going to be putting them in the forefront a little more. That’s what I looked at.
“I’m excited to stay with the Blackhawks, that’s the No. 1 thing I wanted to do,” Campbell continued. “I’m going in to work on the business side. I want to learn and grow with it. I’ll work my way up in that organization. There’s a lot of good people, so I’m excited for that opportunity.”
Returning to Chicago was key for Campbell last summer. It’s where he and his family call home. To stay here with the Blackhawks in an off-ice capacity is the perfect finale for him.
“That’s why I came back, that’s why I want to be part of the organization. Leadership has been good to me,” Campbell said. “I’ve worked hard and that’s what I want to do is continue to grow, the fans to get more excited. It’s just fitting. for me. It worked out perfectly.”
After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.
Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.
"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.
"What was said this time around crossed the line."
The Capitals released a statement about the incident:
"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."
The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.
Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.
"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."
The Capitals released the full interview.
Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.
Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.
Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:
After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: