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The next level
Will Campbell get SJ over the hump?
3/2/08 - By Steve Flores

The Brian Campbell era as a San Joe Shark began on Wednesday. The stat sheet will show that he had an assist and led the team in ice team. As usual the stats don't tell the whole story. Upon arriving in snowy Columbus, Ohio at midnight Campbell got some form of sleep and then went and met his teammates and coaches. In his first game as a Shark "Soupy" as he is known exhibited great skating ability, levied a few volatile checks and controlled the pace for a team that sorely needs a decision-maker on the ice.

"He's easily as fluid a skater on defense that I've ever played with" said Craig Rivet.

Rivet was not the only Shark impressed with the team's newest acquisition.

"He adds just a whole other dimension as far as the up-tempo game. He gets the offense going in a hurry with scary speed" according to defenseman Douglas Murray.

Positive word are to be expected when a new teammate arrives in Dodge but these sentiments ring to mark to anyone who watched Wednesday nights 4-2 win over the Blue Jackets.

The team looked jacked up for a change. There was some jump in the step and the fire was there - at least for this game.

Who knows the whys and wherefores as to the reasons for the team's solid effort. I am sure it wasn't all about Campbell. However the way he steers and guides on the ice sure looked like it was making an early impact.

The guy is known as the infamous 'offensive-defenseman' and he definitely has the skill on the O side. With him in the driver seat the team finally has a legitimate number one defenseman and a guy that will power the often 'powerless' play.

Campbell is unlike any player the Sharks have ever had. The funny thing about his 'man advantage' abilities is that he does not possess a lightning bolt of a shot from the point. His shot is solid yet not overpowering. His gifts lay in all of the other facets of his game. Despite his label as an 'offensive defenseman' he is a solid guy in his own zone. He is heady and exhibits a certain control on the ice that the Sharks have sorely lacked all season. He plays with the confidence to take charge of the play.

He has the credentials (2-time All-Star) to back it up and his skating ability is a wonderful thing to watch. I am not by any means declaring Campbell the 'Messiah' I am simply impressed by the fact that the guy has a certain bravado that I think all great teams need in some way, shape or form.

The team gave up Steve Bernier and their number one pick in the upcoming entry draft. This seems to bother some fans of the team. My question is why? Why does bringing in a player with superior skills ever bother a fan? He is a proven commodity. If it is the lack of a contract beyond this season then have some faith. G.M. Doug Wilson has close ties to Campbell (both former Ottawa 67's players) and has shown the ability in the past to reel in the big fish with a solid contract offer.

The Sharks have built their team almost entirely through the draft. The simple fact of life is that at a certain point a team should peak with their home-grown players. The Sharks are on the precipice of something big - fans and team hope! When a team gets close to that pinnacle it is not necessarily time to keep looking towards the future. A successful team will always reach a point where the future is now. The Sharks are in that era folks. So here is to Brian Campbell, to Doug Wilson and the Sharks management and to all of its players and fans. The team has made its move, now hopefully the pieces will all fall into place as they attempt to bring home Lord Stanley's Cup.


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