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Shock and Uhhh
Some 4th
7/10/08 - By Ken Smyth

When the clock ran out on Brian Campbell and he signed with the Blackhawks many of us who obsessed endlessly (or was it pointlessly?) over rumors were stunned into silence. Meanwhile Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson came out rolling the dice on the blueline. Like it, hate it, call it whatever cliché you like but DW is out there making moves. Wes Nisker used to say "If you don't like the news, go out and make some of your own!" Doug certainly did.

Final tally- Sharks give another first round pick, Craig Rivet, Matt Carle, prospect Ty Wishart, a fourth and a seventh rounder and end up with Dan Boyle, Brad Lukowich, and Rob Blake. Plus a couple second-round picks. Carle, Boyle, Blake and Lukowich are all coming off disappointing seasons. Wishart is barely out of juniors with five games of AHL experience.

If you hate this dealing, you see all the upside in Wishart, shrug off Carle's 2007-08 season as a quirk, and remember the true leadership qualities in Craig Rivet. You also think Rob Blake should've gotten the hint when Dean Lombardi didn't return his calls. I like your optimism; I've got a great deal for you on a Hummer for when gas is back to a buck-fifty a gallon.

If you're happy about the trades it's because you think Boyle and Lukowich stunk on a stinker Tampa Bay team and you remember Rob Blake won a Norris Trophy, admittedly back when the Zamboni's were pulled by horses. You've also got that feeling that Wishart could be another Brad Stuart; or worse, a Jeff Jillson; and that Matt Carle will be mostly be a Matt Carle and get used to changing teams every couple years. You may like the fact that all three have Stanley Cup rings they can flash, not a frequent sight in the San Jose home dressing room.

Me? I see more things to like than not. A bit sorry to see Matt Carle and Craig Rivet leave but this is a pro sport. Players come; players go and if you really want to keep these guys around then adopt them yourself. Only Rivet had an NHL season to be happy with last year. After all this foolin' around the Sharks' blueline is definitely older, tougher, and more able to move pucks around than the bunch that started last season; though don't count on them to chase down a breakaway. Expect them also to be more physical; if it was embarrassing for us to see the Sharks get manhandled by the Flames in the first round a few months ago, imagine how it looked to Doug Wilson and Mike Ricci.

Right now the Sharks' blueline corps is Boyle, Lukowich, Blake, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Christian Ehrhoff, Douglas Murray, and Kyle McLaren. Maybe more changes to come. At the end of training camp last year it was Rivet, Carle, Vlasic, Ehrhoff, Murray, McLaren, Sandis Ozolinsh and Alexei Semenov. You could add Brad Norton to that group, but why? Not a bad lot, but before the Campbell deal the Sharks were almost out of playoff contention. The new lineup is an upgrade if you're out to win a cup in 2009. 2011 might be another story.

On the money side reasons are pretty clear. Close as I can tell, the combined salary cap hit for the three new guys is $13.3 million versus about 7.45 million for the ones who left. Still a bit cheaper than matching the Hawks' deal with Campbell; plus half that (Blake and Lukowich) will be off the books in a couple years. Just in time to re-sign Joe Thornton. BTW- If you think they overpaid a bit for Blake, remember that keeping him off the Anaheim Ducks qualifies as a service to hockey-kind in general.

Will this dealing work out? (Don't ask the Rivet family.) We all know the real answer. Win a Stanley Cup and these trades become trivia questions. The Sharks' defensemen were not good enough to get the team past the second round two years straight even with Brian Campbell. Now the clock is running again, but on Doug Wilson's job. Another year without a Stanley Cup or at least a run to the Finals and he may be working in Chicago, too.

Other winners of the Brian Campbell Sweepstakes:

1) The people of Chicago. First, home games on TV, now between Campbell and Cristobal Huet, the Blackhawks are in for close to $80 million to two players. Bill Wirtz must be spinning in his grave fast enough to power most of northern Illinois.

2) The Buffalo Sabres, who just traded Steve Bernier's rights to Vancouver for two more draft picks. So, given that Brian was gone as of July 1st anyway, Buffalo gave up a seventh round pick for a first, a second and a third. They're playing with the casino's money now, if they feel really lucky they can run up the score score dealing one or two picks to the Maple Leafs.

3) Rob Blake, Christian Ehrhoff and just about every defenseman signing a contract this summer- the Campbell deal upped the going rate for all of them.

4) Daniel Negreanu- as he asks for an autograph and invites Brian over for a friendly game

Contact Ken at at Kenin210@eudoramail.com


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