I've been hearing a lot of "sorry to hear about Campbell," "I feel for you guys," "it's got to be a tough night for you," etc. from many of my hockey buddies across North America. I'm sure other Sabres fans have heard similar sentiment.
But please, don't feel bad for us. No reason to.
Let me start by putting it this way, this day is NOTHING, NOTHING compared to that dark 1st of July last summer. Now THAT was a painful day to be a Sabre fan. Nearly all Sabres fans felt horribly betrayed, not only by the team's management but by two players we looked up to, admired and poured our hearts and minds into (including our wallets, with jerseys and so on) for quite some time. There was no "bright side" to that day. Nothing would ease the pain.
This.....this is an ENTIRELY different situation.
(1) Campbell was proving to be a mighty distraction to this team. Everyone, from fans to players, are glad in at least one sense - the circus is finally over.
(2) There's closure. And it happened quickly. We know who went, we know who management brought back as a result. It's over and we move on.
(3) We're in the THICK of a playoff hunt. And we're not far off at all. As Versus pointed out today, Buffalo has the 3rd best record in the Eastern Conference since Nov. 15.
(4) We've added a roster player, as a result of this whole situation, who can contribute immediately on our roster. Not a prospect, not just a draft pick, a roster player who will be in the lineup tomorrow against Nashville. We're all excited for Steve Bernier to be joining us as we keep our eyes on the lone prize in the coming weeks: that ever-coveted playoff spot.
(5) Campbell's comments as of late were just very confusing, and they were not helping the team. A lot of Me vs. Team in his words, and it seemed he was battling with everything for several weeks now. His play had dropped considerably and fortunately during that time we were able to test Kalinin and others on the PP and realized we can survive without Soupy.
(6) We have a group of solid DEFENDERS without Campbell. Because let's face it, yes, Campbell is a defenseman but he's all about offense. Moving Campbell allows us to tighten up in front of Miller and gives some young kids the chance to step up, as Sekera, Weber, and Card have all looked very good in Rochester (as bad as the rest of that team has been). Along with this point, our team has no shortage of offense, especially with Afinogenov, Hecht and Stafford still out and expected to return soon, and now Bernier added to the roster. And finally, Teppo Numminen may be back yet. And he could be huge for us...a calming force on the backend who can get our boys ready for the playoff push.
(7) The obvious. No chance of losing this guy for nothing like so many before him!
Just the fact we finally have a resolution, it's finally over with, feels great to me, and many other Sabres fans I've talked to. Now we can have our minds on one goal and one alone. Too bad Campbell can't be a part of it, but we still have a very solid team, with good goaltending, good coaching, solid forwards, and a strong defense. It's a young team, but it's been playing some of its best hockey as of late - even with the tight losses to NYR and Philly the last few days - and we're ready to get right back at it tomorrow vs. Nashville.