Brian Campbell returned to the Blackhawks with a one-year deal on Friday.
And while there's a whole year between now and the next time Campbell would be eligible to become a free agent, the 37-year-old defenseman was not shy about sharing his hope that his second stint in Chicago will last more than just one year.
"It's exciting for us to be home, to be a part of the great organization of the Blackhawks hopefully for a lot of years," Campbell told CSN's David Kaplan on Friday's edition of SportsTalk Live. "I know I just signed a one-year deal today, but hopefully we can keep this going for a few more."
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Campbell's first go-round with the Blackhawks lasted three seasons and featured a Stanley Cup win in 2010. But he's made his offseason home here ever since — even after getting traded to the Florida Panthers, where he spent the past five seasons — and his wife is a Chicagoland native, meaning he's got a strong desire to remain in the Windy City.
Taking the seemingly annual salary-cap squeeze out of the equation, will Campbell's body allow him to remain an attractive addition to future Blackhawks squads? He thinks so, saying he doesn't feel his age.
"I feel great. You know what I put into it. The offseason training is so important, especially when you get older. I really don't feel 37," Campbell said. "I feel good, I've still got my legs skating, and I'm doing everything to take care of myself. My biggest goal is to come back here and win again. I think I still have a lot left in the tank. I think I can fit in nicely into a good role here and produce and help out in a big way."
Plenty of time has passed since Brian Campbell was one of the top defensemen on the team that lifted the Stanley Cup back in 2010.
So now that Campbell is back with the Blackhawks following his five-season stint with the Florida Panthers — the 37-year-old agreed to a one-year deal to return to Chicago on Friday — how much different will his role be from his previous stint?
Campbell said he doesn't care what his role is with the 2016-17 edition of the Blackhawks.
It's not too hard to envision him as one of the top four defensemen alongside his once-again teammates Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson. But Campbell is cool with whatever Joel Quenneville wants him to do.
"I don't care what my role is. I want to contribute," Campbell told CSN's David Kaplan on Friday's edition of SportsTalk Live. "Everybody wants to play a lot, but whatever they put me in, I'm happy with. I can see myself being in a top-four, I know I can be in a top-four role still. I still know I can produce at that level and be good at that and not just be OK. I can be great at that role. So if that's what they want me to do, I'm in for it.
"Last year, I played the most minutes on my team for a D-man. I played in top-four, top-two role, so I'm fine with that. I feel like I've got it in me to do that. I played with Hjalmarsson when I was here before, and obviously knowing the other guys, too. It's up to the coaching staff and what they want to do, but I think they can put me in anywhere they want and I'll be the hardest worker doing it."
Like most veteran free agents that have come to the Blackhawks in recent seasons, Campbell expressed his confidence in the team's ability to win another championship. This offseason has featured another salary-cap squeeze for the Blackhawks, with Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen all traded. But surely Campbell isn't far off in his feeling that he can end this season with the Blackhawks the same way things ended in 2010.
"I think some of these young guys who are going to come up and play important roles need to show themselves. There's a lot of good competition, and you're going to need those kids coming up and it's time for them to prove themselves. I think that's going to help," Campbell said of the Blackhawks chances at another Stanley Cup in 2016-17. "And obviously when you have the best leader in hockey leading your team, you've got a chance every single night. There's a lot of will and determination in that locker room, and it's just a time for us to jump on board and get going. I wouldn't have came here if we didn't have a chance to win. That's a big reason why I came here, and I truly believe there is a chance."
NEW YORK — Jeurys Familia schooled Willson Contreras, the New York Mets closer blowing the Cubs rookie away in the ninth inning on Thursday night at Citi Field with five pitches clocked between 96 and 98 mph.
Contreras fouled off one pitch in the middle of that at-bat but whiffed three times, striking out swinging with the bases loaded after Familia intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo, trying to protect a one-run lead.
“He learned a lesson,” manager Joe Maddon said of Contreras, replaying the end of that 4-3 loss against a closer who’s 27-for-27 in save chances this season. “Familia didn’t even throw one strike, I don’t think, among all those hitters, but his stuff moves that harshly. It’s really that good. I would like to believe the next time they see him, they might have a different approach.”
[MORE CUBS TALK: Cubs aren’t sweating loss to Mets or NLCS flashbacks]
That’s yet another reason why the Cubs don’t plan to send Contreras back to Triple-A Iowa, understanding how valuable he could become in October and beyond.
“He’s shown that he belongs here,” Maddon said. “He’s definitely shown that he can do this. (He’s saying): ‘I’m staying here. I’m not going anywhere.’”
There are looming roster decisions, with Adam Warren scheduled to make a spot start against the Cincinnati Reds next week at Wrigley Field after getting stretched out at Triple-A Iowa. Tommy La Stella (hamstring) could be activated from the disabled list as soon as this weekend. Dexter Fowler (hamstring) might not return to the lineup until after the All-Star break. The Cubs haven’t really given a timeline on Jorge Soler (hamstring).
But Contreras has already proven his versatility, moving to left field and first base while living up to his catcher-of-the-future label and hitting .325 (13-for-40) with three homers and 10 RBIs through his first 13 games in The Show.
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As long as Contreras continues to absorb the team’s game-planning system — and learn all the different personalities on this pitching staff — his rocket arm might also help the Cubs control the running game better than they did during last year’s National League Championship Series loss to the Mets.
“That was like the floor — to bring him up as a third catcher and get his feet wet, see how it goes,” president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said, “knowing that we could easily send him back down. But we always were transparent about leaving open the possibility that he might take off and hit the ground running. And he certainly has.
“No pun intended, he’s willed himself into this position. No decrees about this formally, but he’s obviously played himself into a position to take on real responsibility and help the team win. He’s earned his spot on the team.”