For Brian Campbell, it was pretty simple.
He wanted to come back to Chicago. He makes his offseason home here, wants to continue to raise his young family here and is incredibly familiar with the team here. All it was going to take was a decent, not decadent, salary.
Campbell got that, and now he’s back to try and win another Stanley Cup.
Campbell signed a one-year deal worth a reported $2 million with the Blackhawks not long after the NHL free agency window opened on Friday. For Campbell, the chance to come back to Chicago was too tempting and worth turning down other, more lucrative offers.
“It’s where my heart is, where I want to play,” said Campbell via conference call. “The last time when I was a free agent, money played a factor. This time it was about what was best for me and my family. I have two young daughters; one is going into preschool. I’ve been welcomed into the neighborhood I live in. It’s just where I wanted to be, where my heart was. It just makes our life perfect. We’re ecstatic about being here.”
It’s a good, affordable deal, just like the one the Blackhawks signed Brad Richards to entering the 2014-15 season. Unlike with Richards, there shouldn’t be much adjustment time for Campbell. While the Blackhawks’ roster has changed plenty since Campbell was traded, the core is still fairly intact.
General manager Stan Bowman said at the draft last weekend that he wouldn’t rule out getting a veteran defenseman. Now he has Campbell back in the fold and it didn’t take long to convince him to return.
“The fact it came together so quickly, seemed it was a place Brian wanted to be,” Bowman said. “No question that Brian had a tremendous season this past year and several good years, leading up to this year. I’m sure he had other opportunities. Speaks to what person Brian is. He’s a winner. He believes in our organization and our chances last year. Nice to know he wants to be part of what we’re doing in Chicago. Familiarity with the coach and some players here. We’re excited he chose Chicago.”
Campbell’s return helps a defense that missed Johnny Oduya last season. Whether or not he plays as big a role as he did in Florida, or even in his first stint with Chicago, remains to be seen but Campbell believes he can still be a top-minute guy. His durability has been proven; the 37-year-old Campbell has played in every regular-season game with the Florida Panthers since he joined them in the 2011-12 season.
“I have a lot left in the tank,” Campbell said. “There are no egos here for me. It’s doing what’s best to win. I know how old I am but I definitely don’t feel that old. I led the Panthers in minutes last season but I’m definitely fine with less minutes as well. Whatever they want I’m more than happy to contribute.”
With the Campbell deal done the Blackhawks have around $3.2 million in cap space, per generalfanager.com. The Blackhawks may not do a whole lot else regarding free agency. Bowman said the Blackhawks could get a “role-type player,” but getting Campbell was their top priority.
The Blackhawks needed to bolster their defense. Campbell wanted to come “home.” It worked out. Now to see if Campbell is once again the defenseman the Blackhawks need.
“I call Chicago home. My wife grew up here and we’re excited to raise our two daughters here,” Campbell said. “I couldn’t be happier to play for my hometown team now.”