What's This About Soup and Who is This Campbell You Speak Of?

No. Really. I don’t know who this “Brian Campbell” character is, but what I do know is that the Sharks defensive line is not currently accepting applications.

I kid of course…how could any Sharks fan forget Brian “Soupy” Campbell? We had quite the intense little fling and faster than we could say “Mmm Mmm Good…” he was gone. Ah, such is life.

I think to compare Brian Campbell and Dan Boyle, you need to see it from a Sharks fan’s perspective…and that’s what I am, so that’s what you’re going to get.

This is a tale that has been pushed to the back of many Sharks fans minds, along side the Round Two disappointment and kissing Ron Wilson goodbye…I’m sure many would agree, these three things combined with the acquisition of Dan Boyle, Brad Lukowich and Rob Blake have proven to be the catalysts we needed to propel us into success for the 08-09 season.

However, let’s not forget what great contributions these collectively were to our game. The Campbell versus Boyle debate is something that we as Sharks fans still hear and are asked about on a very regular basis…so I guess now is as good a time as any to air it all out, put it on record and have ourselves a nice big helping of cold, leftover soup.

Reaching back into the dark corners of my memory, I blast through the flashbacks. The flashbacks of the trade deadline and the flashbacks of the end of last season, and all of the emotions come flooding back. The Emotional Roller Coaster of Playoff Hockey…and how sweet it really, really was…

Once upon a time…

The Sharks left for a road trip after a disappointing Valentine’s Day loss at home against Edmonton, and little did we know on that miserable, miserable Valentine’s Day that the team that would return two weeks later would be a welcome change to the one that left. The biggest change of all had much to do with Brian Campbell…now, while February 26th brought us (me specifically…yes I’m selfish about this) the heartache of losing Steve Bernier, it also brought the optimistic wonder of a brand new player…a highly touted defenseman named Brian Campbell. A defenseman that we undoubtedly were in need of. Our blue line needed help and supposedly this was the man who was going to do the fixing.

Not only did Campbell rekindle the fire in our blue line, but he created great chemistry with the rest of the team and it seemed as though new life was breathed into this team who’s recent record was nothing to shake a hockey stick at…the team began to gel so well that Campbell’s presence on the team resulted in a 20+ game streak without a regulation loss. But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here…let’s go back and take a look at the climactic game that saw Brian Campbell skate straight into the hearts of San Jose’s fans…the Sharks homecoming game after their road trip…the first chance that we Sharks fans got to watch the new kid on the block live and in person.

It would be an understatement to say that the game, and the new addition to the team absolutely blew us away…we didn’t really have an offensive defenseman, and to watch one of Campbell’s caliber and skill playing for our team was truly a trip of epic proportions. The culmination of the night was Campbell’s infamous spin-o-rama goal on Carey Price…it just didn’t get any better.

The only thing that has ever even compared to the Tank that night was perhaps Game 7 versus Calgary or Game 5 versus Dallas…but really, when you hear all of HP Pavilion chanting “Sign him!” its hard not to chant along…especially when it seems like all of your problems have been fixed…and your team has been saved…

20+ games later…the honeymoon is over.
Our beloved “Soupy” takes a penalty in the fourth overtime in game 6 against Dallas…an elimination game.

I don’t think any player in the history of televised hockey has been cursed up and down as much as he was at that moment. Maybe we needed someone to point a finger at, but really at this point it became apparent that Campbell just didn’t want to be here anymore. His play started to deteriorate and so did the “magic” that came with his acquisition. The “sign him!” chants were no more…we knew better. He had no intention of signing here, he was simply on a good-weather vacation to California.

When Campbell left, pretty much everyone who wasn’t a Sharks fan saw it as a loss…we read it in articles, saw it on tv and heard it from friends. But once again we knew better, something bigger was in the cards…and with the trust we have in Doug Wilson, we knew he wouldn’t let us down…this is his team as much as it is ours, and he clearly wants to win.

On Independence Day, Wilson came through with a trade so amazing, I still can’t believe it. With Dan Boyle all but being run out of Tampa Bay, he was left hanging out to dry – and no better time for the Sharks to strengthen our blue line and pick him up…along with his number one man, Brad Lukowich. Two amazing d-men in return for Matt Carle, Ty Wishart (prospect) and two draft picks.

When the general public learned of the trade, the excitement just started flowing from everyone…and soon it was “Campbell who?”

Everyone, not even just fans of the Sharks, were talking about what a fantastic team we were going to have for this new season, and how Boyle was going to work wonders for our team. I really had no idea…I didn’t follow Tampa Bay, I am still new to the game, I really didn’t have a clue as to what we were getting with these guys. Needless to say, I was and still am, blown away.

With four goals, seven assists and a plus-minus of 7 so far for the season, Dan Boyle is proving to be an integral part of our early success…but it’s more than just the numbers. Since he established himself on the team, the blue line has been unstoppable…not to mention the transformation our entire team has made. An incredible amount of shots are coming from the blue line and succeeding…defensemen like Christian Ehrhoff and Marc-Eduard Vlasic have also stepped up their game accordingly and are completely different players from their last season counterparts.

To say that Dan Boyle has made an impression on San Jose is an immense understatement…he’s made an impression on the entire league…an impression that will last far beyond 20 games. Between his speed, puck handling and finesse, Dan Boyle is an immensely valuable player to this hockey league…he is the definition of a true defenseman. We know that he wants to be with us, you could hear it in his voice and see it in his smile from the day he got here. Since coming to San Jose he has been able to shine and be appreciated for the energy, charisma, character and heart he brings to the game. The personalities and experience of Boyle, Lukowich and Blake have brought a new life to San Jose…and the proof is in the Gatorade…the numbers speak for themselves, and the chemistry on the Sharks bench is undeniable.

The truth here is, you can’t really compare Campbell to Boyle…one was born to wear a Sharks jersey and the other wasn’t.
Plain and simple.

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