CAMP­BELL HELP­ING SABRES FOR­GET

SEC­OND IN AS­SISTS

National Post (Latest Edition) - - Sports - BY SEAN FITZ-GER­ALD

B U F FA L O, N.Y. • De­fence­man Brian Camp­bell am­bled into the home team’s dress­ing room at HSBC Arena yes­ter­day as the lead­ing points pro­ducer on a ros­ter filled with tal­ented young for­wards and the poster boy for the re­silience of the Buf­falo Sabres.

He reg­is­tered a point in each of his first four games, in­clud­ing the four as­sists he earned in a win over Wash­ing­ton on Satur­day. Camp­bell had nine points over­all, and his eight as­sists were tied for sec­ond most in the league be­hind Ottawa cen­tre Ja­son Spezza (11).

“Do I ex­pect big things from my­self? Yeah, but that’s a pretty good start,” Camp­bell, 28, said. “It’s pretty crazy. I don’t know what to say to it. Ob­vi­ously, I don’t ex­pect to keep that pace up or any­thing like that, but I feel good about my­self.”

Camp­bell was named the sec­ond of the NHL’s three stars of the week yes­ter­day.

His suc­cess has aided the Sabres to a 2-2 start in which the club has scored seven of its 24 goals on the power play. While Buf­falo, which has been to the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal the last two sea­sons, is al­ready eight points be­hind the blaz­ing Ottawa Sen­a­tors in the North­east Di­vi­sion, things looked much more dire for the Sabres when free agency chopped the heart out of the young club in the off-sea­son.

Buf­falo is still deal­ing with the sting of los­ing two of its top three points pro­duc­ers — Daniel Brière and Chris Drury — and can ill-af­ford to strike out again this sum­mer when three more key vet­er­ans — Camp­bell, for­ward Jochen Hecht and de­fence­man Dmitri Kalinin — emerge from the end of their cur­rent deals.

There have been signs the front of­fice has re­laxed its pol­icy of ne­go­ti­at­ing dur­ing the sea­son. Camp­bell said his rep­re­sen­ta­tives have met with Buf­falo man­age­ment, but he is still wait­ing on a new deal, which will prob­a­bly be worth more than the US$1.75-mil­lion he will be paid this sea­son.

“I like it here, I have no com­plaints and I’d like to stay here,” Camp­bell said. “What­ever hap­pens af­ter that hap­pens af­ter that. It’s a wait-and­see kind of game, but I think I’ve let it be known that I don’t re­ally need to go any­where.”

That is not to say his time in Buf­falo has al­ways been as smooth. Camp­bell and for­mer room­mate Rhett War­rener were quar­an­tined four years ago af­ter a visit from Camp­bell’s sis­ter-in-law, a health­care worker at Mount Si­nai Hospi­tal in Toronto who was di­ag­nosed with se­vere acute res­pi­ra­tory syn­drome (SARS).

Camp­bell and War­rener be­came the fo­cus of at­ten­tion on a flight to Carolina with the rest of the team, in­clud­ing coach Lindy Ruff.

“They started clos­ing the doors to take off and ev­ery­one’s yelling, ‘Don’t take off, don’t take off!’ Then we’ve got the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion on the phone.

“Brian … was on the phone and he said, ‘Oh, they want to talk to you, Lindy,’ and tries to hand him the phone. Lindy’s go­ing, ‘I don’t want that phone! Get me a dif­fer­ent phone!’ ”

Camp­bell’s sis­ter-in-law re­cov­ered af­ter a few weeks of rest.

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