Report: Campbell wants out of Florida

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The closer we get to the draft, the more intriguing the Florida Panthers become.

The Panthers, already rumored to be shopping the first overall pick at the ’14 Draft, now reportedly have another potential move on their hands — defenseman Brian Campbell wants out, according to Fox Sports Midwest’s Andy Strickland.

Campbell, 35, has two years remaining on the massive eight-year, $57 million deal signed with Chicago in 2008. He carries an average annual cap hit of $7.14 million and, perhaps most importantly, holds an equal salary hit — Campbell didn’t sign one of those back-diving long-term deals the NHL has since penalized in the form of cap recapture.

If Strickland’s report of Campbell’s unhappiness in Florida is accurate, it won’t be entirely surprising. Campbell didn’t have Florida on his list of eight teams upon being traded from Chicago in 2011 (he had a modified no-trade clause) and Panthers GM Dale Tallon had to persuade Campbell to waive his NTC to come to Florida.

Here was Tallon’s sales pitch, per the Chicago Tribune. See any issues with it?

“We talked a couple of times,” said Tallon, who was the Hawks’ GM in 2008 when he signed Campbell to an eight-year, $56.8 million contract. “I explained the plan and the blueprint. It’s similar to what we did in Chicago. He was able to convince his family and fiance that this is the right move for him and I think it is. It was a great conversation with a guy who loves to play hockey. It was a tough decision for him.”

In Campbell’s contract, there are eight teams to which he can be traded without his permission but the Panthers weren’t on the list. In the end, Tallon’s pitch was enough for him to OK the move with the Hawks getting winger Rostislav Olesz in return.

“I was pretty quiet (Friday), mulling it over, thinking of all the positives and negatives of the situation,'” Campbell told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Dale did some great things in Chicago for a lot of guys and I’ve talked to a lot of my ex-teammates who are saying to me, ‘Get me there.’

“Dale will make this place very attractive for players. We’ll get this organization going in the right direction and make the fans want to come back to support a great team.”

Since that time, the Panthers have gone 82-98-32, made the playoffs just once and are now on the verge of hiring their third head coach after dismissing both Kevin Dineen and Peter Horachek.

Campbell, meanwhile, has seen his reputation take a hit by playing big minutes on a bad team. He’s minus-37 since joining the Panthers, prompting L.A. head coach Darryl Sutter to say the following:

As long as [Drew] Doughty is taking care of business in his own end and making a good first pass, Sutter will be happy.

The last thing the coach wants to see is Doughty trying to do it all himself.

“Well, if you do that all the time, you’re not a very good player,” said Sutter, per LA Kings Insider. “You’re Brian Campbell in Florida. You’ll be minus-20. And we’ll see you on the highlights, but you’re on a bad team, and you’re a high-minus player.”

Should Campbell be made available via trade, he’ll be an interesting candidate. Though the cap hit is high, he’s still a quality point producer and excellent puck-mover, something the Oilers — who have nearly $26 million in cap space — are reportedly interested in acquiring.

Andrew Hammond to start Game 5 for Avalanche

AP
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When the Colorado Avalanche hit the ice in Nashville on Friday night they will be facing elimination. They will also need to rely on their third-string goalie to help get them a win if they are going to extend their season.

The team announced on Thursday that Andrew Hammond will be getting the start, replacing Jonathan Bernier who had to leave Wednesday’s game after two periods with a lower body injury. Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Bernier’s injury has been a nagging one and that he could still be available off the bench on Friday if needed.

The Avalanche had been starting Bernier because their regular starter, Semyon Varlamov, is out for the remainder of the season due to a lower body injury of his own.

Obviously, this puts the Avalanche in a pretty tough spot. Not only because they have to go on the road against the Presidents’ Trophy winning Predators, but also because they have to turn to a goalie that, including Wednesday’s brief relief appearance, has appeared in just eight NHL games over the past two years. He has faced only 127 shots in those appearances and managed only an .874 save percentage.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

 Hammond’s career has been a fascinating one to this point.

Late in the 2014-15 season he came out of nowhere as a 25-year-old rookie to lead the Ottawa Senators on an improbable late season run (where Hammond put together a 20-1-2 record) to qualify for the playoffs. Nicknamed “the Hamburglar,” his initial run in Ottawa was highlighted by fans throwing hamburgers on the ice to celebrate his wins.  That run earned him a contract extension with the Senators and a bunch of free hamburgers from McDonalds. It was a crazy year.

After that, though, injuries and a decline in his production have limited him to just a handful of appearances in the NHL.

The Avalanche acquired him from the Senators earlier this season as part of the Matt Duchene trade.

Now he has to jump into the crease in an elimination game.

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Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Predators’ Ryan Hartman to have hearing after illegal check to the head

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Ryan Hartman had a tough night at the office on Wednesday night and will have to answer to the NHL’s Department of Player Safety because of it.

Hartman’s hearing stems from a charging penalty he was assessed after lining up Colorado Avalanche forward Carl Soderberg‘s head with his shoulder at the 4:42 mark of the third period.

Soderberg was forced to leave the game after the play.

Earlier in the game, Hartman tried to line up Sven Andrighetto from a mile out in the second period but missed, prompting the latter to come and give Hartman some business, which included a stick below the belt to Hartman.

The Predators took Game 4 by a 3-2 margin, holding off a third-period comeback attempt from the Avalanche to take a 3-1 series lead.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Seinfeld’s Puddy attends Devils game to ‘support the team’

NJ Devils on Twitter
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The man known affectionately as Puddy (aka actor Patrick Warburton) was in New Jersey last night trying to rile up the Devils prior to Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You’ll remember Puddy, the face-painted Devils fan from the hit TV show Seinfeld, for such lines as, ‘We’re the Devils… The Devils’ and ‘Don’t mess with the Devils. We can beat anybody.’

That’s pretty much it, but he didn’t need to say much else to become an instant cult classic among Devils fans.

Warburton resurrected the character on Wednesdat night, doing his best to get the Devils and their fans amped up prior to the game.

Unfortunately for New Jersey, the tactic didn’t pay off as the Lightning took a 3-1 series lead on the back of a 3-1 win.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Ducks wake-up call; Crosby passes Lemieux

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.
• For Ducks, getting swept should be a wake-up call (Los Angeles Times)

• Takeaways: an unlikely hero emerges as Sharks sweep Ducks (San Jose Mercury News)

Sidney Crosby passes Mario Lemieux for Penguins’ playoff points lead (USA Today)

• The Penguins are still too much for the Flyers (SB Nation)

• Hey, Saint Patrick. It’s a sin you missed how Avs refused to quit in 3-2 loss against Nashville. (Denver Post)

• In defying odds, Golden Knights’ success is not so good for sports books (USA Today)

Marc-Andre Fleury‘s ex-teammates with Penguins happy for his success in playoffs (NHL.com)

• Bodog: Golden Knights are Cup favourites (TSN.ca)

• Foligno brothers savouring first simultaneous NHL post-season (Toronto Star)

Blake Wheeler‘s path to being an elite player in the NHL took a winding road (Winnipeg Sun)

• How a financial advisor became the NHL’s only active black official (Sportsnet)

• Bill Peters has the inside track in Calgary, but there’s a lot of local blood to consider (The Hockey News)

• Von Miller just discovered hockey and he is WAY into it (The Loop)

• Humboldt Broncos tribute concert aims to bring in NHL players, alumni (Sportsnet)

• Town puts ‘giant hockey stick on our porch’ in Humboldt tribute (CBC)

• The case for each Vezina Trophy finalist — and a few snubs (The Hockey News)

• Why the Stanley Cup gets names removed every 13 years (Sportsnet)

• Up top, watch how the Penguins are coming alive in the postseason and the energy being displayed by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin should be worrying their opponents.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck