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Campbell: Don't boo me

Brian Campbell's last message to Sabres fans was a simple one, and it came from the heart.

"Don't boo me when I come back," the defenseman said this afternoon shortly after being traded to the San Jose Sharks.

Campbell fought back tears but also chuckled with reporters as he discussed the trade. He was sent to San Jose along with a seventh-round draft pick in exchange for 22-year-old right wing Steve Bernier and a first-round pick.

"It's life changing," Campbell said in HSBC Arena.

Campbell spent eight seasons with the Sabres, and he was informed of the trade by General Manager Darcy Regier and coach Lindy Ruff.

"Lindy and I met with him and thanked him," Regier said. "There's a lot of respect and that will continue."

Bernier was a first-round pick by the Sharks in the 2003 draft, No. 16 overall. He has 13 goals and 10 assists in 59 games for the Sharks.

The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder had played on the second line with Sharks center Patrick Marleau. The winger had struggled of late. He hasn't scored in 12 games, part of a team-wide problem that forced the team to look for offense. Campbell is expected to provide that, especially as the point man on the power play.

"Steve Bernier addressed an immediate need and a future need," Regier said. "He's a young player who will be able to help us now and down the road."

Bernier, who turns 23 at the end of March, had an outstanding junior career. He scored at least 31 goals all four years, led by a career-high 49.

Regier said it became clear in the past few days a deal would not be reached with Campbell and a trade was the best option.

"We would all preferred to have him or keep him here," Regier said. "But this is part of the new CBA we have to deal with.

"It's unfortunate for the fans."

"We've been talking contract for a long time. It's the process that played out."

Campbell admitted he was frustrated with the negations with the Sabres. He desperately wanted a long-term deal with Buffalo, but the Sabres offered just a three-year deal.

"I can't sign a three-year deal like that," said Campbell, who pointed out that Florida's Richard Zednik could have died in the arena this month and it forced Campbell to think of how short a players' career could be. "You see what happens. You have to look out for No. 1."

Campbell joins a Sharks team that includes former Sabres Mike Grier and Curtis Brown. The defenseman also knows GM Doug Wilson from his junior days in Ottawa and grew up playing summer hockey with Joe Thornton.

"It is [sad]," Regier said. "I think it's a very sad day. These guys start as draft picks, and 10 years later you get to know them and they're part of the team."

---John Vogl

Bernier and first-round pick on the way

The Sabres officially have announced they acquired right wing Steve Bernier and a first-round pick from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for Brian Campbell and a seventh-round pick.

Bernier was a first-round pick by the Sharks in the 2003 draft, No. 16 overall. He has 13 goals and 10 assists in 59 games for the Sharks.

Bernier, a 6-foot-2, 225-pounder, had played on the second line with Sharks center Patrick Marleau. The winger had struggled of late. He hasn't scored in 12 games, part of a team-wide problem that forced the team to look for offense. Campbell is expected to provide that, especially as the point man on the power play.

"Steve Bernier addressed an immediate need and a future need," Sabres General Manager Darcy Regier said. "He's a young player who will be able to help us now and down the road."

Bernier, who turns 23 at the end of March, had an outstanding junior career. He scored at least 31 goals all four years, led by a career-high 49.

Regier said it became clear in the past few days a deal would not be reached with Campbell and a trade was the best option.

"We would all preferred to have him or keep him here," Regier said. "But this is part of the new CBA we have to deal with.

"It's unfortunate for the fans."

Campbell spent eight seasons with the Sabres, and he was informed of the trade by Regier and coach Lindy Ruff.

"Lindy and I met with him and thanked him," Regier said. "There's a lot of respect and that will continue."

"We've been talking contract for a long time. It's the process that played out.

"It is [sad]," Regier said. "I think it's a very sad day. These guys start as draft picks, and 10 years later you get to know them and they're part of the team."

---John Vogl

Campbell to San Jose

TSN is reporting Brian Campbell has been traded to San Jose. The Sabres just emerged from their locker room in workout clothes and headed toward the hallway adjacent to the arena pavilion to run. Campbell was with them. More to come.

---Mike Harrington

Belak goes from scratch to Florida

Wade Belak, who gets plenty of cheers in Air Canada Centre when his name is announced as a scratch for the Maple Leafs, was sent to the Florida Panthers for a fifth-round draft pick. I always liked the defenseman as a person because he is one funny guy who is eager to fill a notebook.

---John Vogl

First deal: Devils-Blues

The Devils get defenseman Bryce Salvador from St. Louis for forward Cam Janssen, who is a St. Louis native and will be going home.

---Mike Harrington

Campbell in the house

The Sabres have been told to report to HSBC Arena for a mandatory 10:45 a.m. meeting. They may not go on the ice today. Brian Campbell is already here and was just spotted working on a stick and talking to longtime equipment manager Rip Simonick outside the dressing room. Stay tuned.

---Mike Harrington

Still more staying than going

Mike Comrie becomes the latest to re-sign with his team and take his name off the market. The forward, who tormented the Sabres in the opening two losses of the season but hasn't lived up to that start, reportedly signed a one-year, $4 million deal.

And, more importantly, good morning. Should be an interesting day in Sabreland. Have fun, and check back at the Sabres Edge and the breaking news home page at buffalonews.com for the latest, up-to-the-minute news, analysis and whatever else.

---John Vogl

Let's get this over with

What a brutal night. Things figure to get even nuttier on Tuesday.

By the time the Sabres play Nashville here Wednesday night, they could have quite a different look. Brian Campbell is gone. No way he's staying. He basically gave his goodbye speech in the locker room after Monday's game, waxing poetic about the city, the fans and everyone's perseverance through the bankruptcy days.

I'm not going to go on and on about the disgrace that was the 4-3 shootout loss to the previously pathetic Flyers. Suffice to say, you can't blow a three-goal lead at home to a team on a 10-game losing streak and think you're going anywhere in the playoffs.

Let's think positive and it's easy to do when you look around the league. Dan Boyle (Tampa Bay) and Barret Jackman (St. Louis) re-signed with their current teams Monday night. Think Campbell took note of Boyle's six-year, $40-million deal? Uh-huh. But that actually helps the Sabres. I'm betting the offers Darcy Regier will get for Campbell are going to be even juicier since No. 51 is now the top available defenseman on the market.

(Dan Boyle got $40 million? $40 million???!! Exactly why did this league shut down for an entire season?)

Regier should take this thing right to 2:59 p.m. and maximize the haul he can get for Campbell. It should be a big one, a deal that could help the Sabres for a long time. No way Campbell was getting six years and $40 million or anything close. He's not worth that either.

Make the deal, Darcy.

---Mike Harrington

Boyle signs with Lightning

The man most linked with Brian Campbell leading up to the trade deadline, Tampa Bay defenseman Dan Boyle, is staying with the Lightning. The 31-year-old signed a six-year deal worth $40 million. That's $6.66 million per year, plus a no-trade clause.

With those numbers in play -- and it was no secret it was those type of numbers at play -- there was no way Campbell would have taken the three-year deal that Buffalo offered. Hockey contracts are guaranteed, and if a player knows for sure he can get a paycheck for five, six or seven years, then three is nothing.

---John Vogl

Campbell on the ice

Brian Campbell just took the ice for the pregame warmup in his normal spot directly behind Ryan Miller. There has been talk the Sabres would scratch him with a trade apparently imminent. That could, of course, still happen but we'll have to wait for the lineups to be announced in a few minutes.

---Mike Harrington

McCarty back with Wings

Just like the Avs did with Peter Forsberg, the Red Wings added a familiar name when they signed Darren McCarty to a one-year deal announced late this afternoon. McCarty was the grit on Detroit's three Stanley Cup champions and scored a spectacular Cup-winning goal in the '97 final as the Wings swept Philadelphia to end a 42-year title drought.

Of course, McCarty is 35 now. He scored just 13 goals combined over the last two years with Calgary. Detroit had stockpiled him in the AHL with Grand Rapids just to see if he could still play. Apparently the Wings liked what they saw enough to formalize the deal. They need something, as their current 1-7-1 slide would attest.

The Wings, by the way, are in town to meet the Sabres Sunday night. It will be their first trip here since Dec. 10, 2003.

---Mike Harrington

Forsberg's back

Colorado just added one of the biggest names as the trade deadline approaches, and it didn't even have to give anything up. Peter Forsberg, a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal-winner, has returned to the Avalanche.

If his feet are healthy enough, he may be the biggest deadline move.

---John Vogl

What do you want for Campbell?

Brian Campbell is certain to be traded, his agent, Larry Kelly, has told The News. Fans of Soupy have less than four hours to think of a way to say goodbye before tonight's game against Philadelphia in HSBC Arena.

Is it a good move to get rid of him before you lose him for nothing? It's clear the Sabres and Campbell were not going to reach an agreement on a new contract. The money wasn't that far off, but a recent offer of three years was deemed insulting for a player in his prime. Deals nowadays are much longer.

And who do you want for him? Young forwards? Prospects? An established player and a pick?

---John Vogl

Soup: Sabres need health, not trades

Brian Campbell made of point saying he hopes to be around after Tuesday's trade deadline, so I asked him if the Sabres should add a player to bolster the roster. He said they just need their injured players back. That means Drew Stafford, Maxim Afinogenov and Jochen Hecht.

"If you go down and look at what you can do with four lines when you get everybody healthy, I think this team is equipped to make a stab at it," Campbell said.

Do you agree? Here's what the lines might look like with everyone healthy and no one gone.

Thomas Vanek-Derek Roy-Ales Kotalik

Tim Connolly-Jochen Hecht-Jason Pominville

Daniel Paille-Paul Gaustad-Drew Stafford

Patrick Kaleta or Clarke MacArthur-Adam Mair-Maxim Afinogenov

Is that a lineup that can succeed? And of course, you can change the lines. I did about five times as I was writing them.

---John Vogl

Final week's fun

The trade deadline is only a week away, and we're still talking about whether or not Brian Campbell will be sticking around. He's the one making headlines around here, but there's plenty more good players out there in similar situations. As always, the final week before the deadline will be interesting.

If you think the Sabres are in a tough position, check out Atlanta. GM Don Waddell traded away Dany Heatley to get Marian Hossa and is about to be taken to the cleaners unless he signs the winger before next Tuesday. And there's almost no chance they'll get that completed in time.

OK, so move him.

Fans often have grandiose ideas about what teams can acquire in trades for certain players, but usually they're way out of bounds. The Sabres and Thrashers have lost a good chunk of their leverage, with their two stars and with other teams, because they weren't aggressive enough early in the season. They'll pay a price.

Tampa Bay is terrible and needs to dump D-man Dan Boyle. If the Blue Jackets can get a bag of pucks for Sergei Fedorov, it's one fewer bag of pucks they'll need to buy next season. They can take it or leave it. They might as well take it because Fedorov has become useless to that organization.

Teams aren't going to give away the store for a rental. A good prospect and a high pick should be considered a win at this point because it's better than watching them walk away for nothing. The only reason to keep good players who are about to become an UFA is if a team is a true Stanley Cup contender.

Please, stop with the 2006 Oilers comparisons and how they proved teams finishing eighth in the conference can still play for the Stanley Cup. It's the only time it happened, which makes it a fluke in my book.

Supporting your team is one thing, but facing reality is another. It's time a few teams, including the Sabres, face reality.

-- Bucky Gleason

Sunday morning musings

The Sabres have completed an optional morning workout in HSBC Arena in preparation for tonight's game against Pittsburgh so we're going to use this space to move on and forget about Saturday's disaster in New York. Going through our notebook:

1). Darcy Regier is in Naples, Fla., for today's opening of the GM meetings. Think Brian Campbell's name will come up one or two times there? The rumors keep percolating that one final Sabres offer is coming -- Hockey Night in Canada's Hot Stove threw around six years and $40 million last night. But Campbell can't have too many more minus-4 periods like he did Saturday if he wants the Sabres to throw the cash register at him.

2). Lindy Ruff said he talked to Campbell this morning and admitted he's worried about his all-star's focus. Said Ruff: "He can't lose focus at being a defender first. That's important. That pair [Campbell and Jaroslav Spacek] hasn't been very good for us. You defend first and take your options after that. That twosome as defenders hasn't done a very good job."

3). Ruff, on whether the trade rumors are dogging his team: "It's part of the game, part of the rumor mill. It can affect a few players. But you focus on the fact we've lost one of our last 11. If it was bugging us, it should have been bugging us [before]. The rumors will come up and you guys will make up rumors -- which you guys are usually good at. And I've told them not to listen to you guys so they know better." Touche!

4). No idea yet if Tim Connolly is playing tonight. He played 4 1/2 minutes yesterday and Ruff held him out, ostensibly to keep him ready for tonight. But there's still pain in his hip. For the first time, Ruff acknowledged there may be a point where Connolly will just have to be shut down and have surgery if the hip doesn't bounce back enough for him to keep playing. Said Ruff: "It's not the possibility we're looking forward to but we can't rule that out."

5). Talked to Sidney Crosby after his extra work following the Penguins' optional skate. He injured his ankle Jan. 18 and the diagnosis was he'd be out 6-8 weeks He's thinking more like six and he was back for his first full-contact practice Saturday. I asked him if he'd be on the ice when the Sabres go back to Mellon Arena on March 12 and he said, "Oh jeez, I hope by then for sure."

6). The biggest complaint I have about the treatment Richard Zednik got all week in Buffalo was that he wanted wings and we got him Picasso's? An outrage. Anchor Bar, Duff's or Gabriel's Gate, anyone?

---Mike Harrington

Campbell in the Shark tank?

Soup_ii_2The Hockey News trade issue this week has an interesting cover (left), featuring Brian Campbell in a San Jose sweater, Mats Sundin in a Vancouver jersey and Marian Hossa back with the Senators.

The magazine thinks the Sabres should trade Campbell and Tim Connolly to the Sharks for Jonathan Cheechoo and Logan Couture. Cheechoo would be a big name in return, which might ease fans' disappointment.

Would you go for that trade?

---John Vogl

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | [email protected]

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | [email protected]


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | [email protected]

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