Campbell's return boosts Hawks in different ways

Heading into play Friday night, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell had 2 assists in 11 games this postseason.

At first glance, you might think that's underwhelming for a player who joined the Hawks with great fanfare in 2008. But that's at the first glance. Remember, Campbell is coming back from a broken collarbone suffered when he was driven into the end boards by Alex Ovechkin that caused him to miss the final 14 games of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.

More important than Campbell's offensive game this postseason has been the help he has provided to the rest of the lineup thanks to his speed and puck-carrying skills.

"His addition to the rush and his pace to the game and joining the offensive zone really gives our team some speed and more puck possession," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville told Tim Sassone of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald. "We really noticed his addition when we got him in Game 4 in Nashville. It turned the series around for us with his energy and pace. It was a big boost for our team, and the timing of when we got him back couldn't have been better."

Another benefit not to be overlooked by Campbell's return is that Dustin Byfuglien was able to return to his role as a power forward and has been an integral part of Chicago's success on the top line since.

They are who we thought they were -- Remember Dennis Green having that meltdown moment when his Arizona Cardinals lost to the Chicago Bears a few years back?

Well, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said much the same thing about the Chicago Blackhawks this week, albeit in a much calmer manner.

"They're so similar to Detroit," Wilson told reporters. "We thought the two best teams we faced all year were Chicago and Detroit, after they got all their guys healthy. Detroit has Datsyuk and Zetterberg -- well, Toews and Kane are just younger versions of that. Detroit has Holmstrom, Chicago has Byfuglien. … Detroit probably has the best defense corps in the League.

"We just have to replicate what we did against Detroit."

Terrible, terrible loss -- Sincerest condolences to Tampa Bay Lighting defenseman Kurtis Foster and his wife, Stephanie, who are mourning the loss of their infant daughter, Lila, who was just five days old when she passed away May 10.

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Peterborough (Ont.) Regional Health Centre.

Well Said I -- "I don't find (Dave Bolland) very irritating. I find him very easy to play. I'm a pretty big guy and he's a little guy, so I don't find it too difficult at all." -- San Jose's Joe Thornton, firing a shot across the bow of Chicago's Dave Bolland.

Nose to the grindstone -- Earlier this season, few would have picked the Philadelphia Flyers to be in the playoffs, much less the Eastern Conference Finals. A poor start cost coach John Stevens his job and a seemingly endless string of injuries seemed to have the Flyers on the treadmill to oblivion.

But the Flyers got some injured players back and had others, most notably goalies Michael Leighton and the now -- ironically -- injured Brian Boucher step up at the right times. So by now, coping with the daily grind of the playoffs is almost second nature to the Flyers.

"It's a lot of practice during the season, lot of ups and downs," defenseman Chris Pronger said. "We've had our fair share, and have learned how to deal with them. You know, I think that's what's great about our team is we understand some nights we might not have our best, but we've got to find a way to win. And other nights when you play well, sometimes you don't get the breaks and you're going to lose some games.

"No matter what you need to continue to come back each day to the rink and be prepared and focused and put the work in, the time in, and hopefully, the next game out you'll be able to rebound and play better."

Halak whacks back -- Montreal Canadiens goalie Jaroslav Halak wasn't terribly impressed with the Flyers' crease crashing in Game 3, getting up from a save to take a whack at Flyers captain Mike Richards, who was doing his best to make himself a nuisance in front.

It's all part of the playoffs, according to Halak.

"This is the playoffs," Halak told's Shawn Roarke. "Obviously they want to crash the net, they want to go in the crease, they want to get me out of the game, and we do the same thing. You can't let that affect you. He pushes you, you push him back. But this is part of the playoffs, and everybody's trying to get under the goalie's skin."

Remembering No. 2 -- The hype machine had turned Alexandre Daigle into the greatest hockey player of all time back in 1993. The scoring sensation from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League was said to be among the best ever to come along and he had the gaudy stats to prove it.

At the time, Daigle, selected first overall by the Ottawa Senators, said he wanted to be the first selection because no one remembers who No. 2 was.

Times change, and now we remember the second pick, defenseman Chris Pronger, and wonder what happened to Daigle.

The rest, as they say, is history. Daigle had 129 goals and 198 assists in 616 regular-season games with the Senators, Flyers, Lightning, Rangers, Penguins and Wild. He was a minus-176 for his career and played in just a dozen playoff games.

Pronger is a plus-175 for his career and has 152 goals and 509 assists in 1,104 regular-season games and is regarded as one of the top defensemen of his generation. He also has won a Stanley Cup, been to another Final and now is looking to get the Flyers to the last round, too.

Well Said II -- "I think in this locker room, we got a lot of talent in here. No one gets to include themselves in a group like that until you win something. Like I say, that's what we're working on here. That's the most important thing. People remember certain individuals, but they certainly remember the teams that are special and that win championships. That would be the coolest thing to be part of." -- Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews

Putting down roots -- Nicklas Backstrom now has plenty of time to see all the interesting and historic places around Washington, D.C. A 10-year contract enables you to make time for such things.

Backstrom became a long-term part of the Washington Capitals' future this week when he signed a long-term deal.

"I'm so happy to be here," Backstrom said. "This organization, we've been growing the last couple years. I'm proud to be a part of that. I'm looking forward to being here for the next 10 years."

Backstrom, just 22, could have become a restricted free agent July 1, but the Capitals jumped in early just to insure no other team came poaching with an offer sheet. And getting Backstrom signed for the long haul gives the Caps a strong core that will be together for the next few seasons. Alex Ovechkin has a similar deal that keeps him with the Caps through 2020-21, defensemen Mike Green has a couple more seasons to go, and other key players are signed through next season.

"The risks are that the player doesn't meet the expectations of the contract, but never have I for one minute with Alex Ovechkin or Nicklas Backstrom thought they won't compete," GM George McPhee said. "We're happy to have them for long-term deals. … You win championships with these kinds of players, so when you get them you want to hang on to them."

Tallon roots on Hawks -- You really didn't expect Dale Tallon to root against the Chicago Blackhawks now that he is the GM of the Florida Panthers, did you?

Nope. Tallon spent too much time with the Hawks over the years and many of the players competing in the Western Conference Finals are his "kids."

"I'm so elated for those players and that organization. Everyone involved has worked so hard to turn it around and I want them to win the Stanley Cup. But I also told them when I left to look forward to challenging the Florida Panthers in the Final. We want to go to a Game 7 and beat them 2-1 so we can get as many gate receipts as we possibly can." -- Dale Tallon

"When things change and people are let go in an organization, it's tough to deal with that," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said of Tallon. "You can't really say anything that is going to make them feel any better, so it's great to see Dale get another chance in Florida. I'm really happy for him and I'm sure he'll do a great job. He deserves that second chance.

"For any player it's difficult to come in and deal with all the things being thrown at you early in your career, but he's the type of guy that makes you feel comfortable and really got me started off on the right foot."

Well Said III -- "If you look over the course of my career, when I've had some sort of setback, I've come back even stronger. I think that's what people should plan on, because that's what I'm planning on." -- Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas

Honoring Gordie -- The University of Saskatchewan will recognize Gordie Howe with an honorary degree at its graduation ceremonies next month.

"Mr. Hockey" grew up in Saskatoon and won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings in the 1950s. He also won six Hart Trophies as the League's most valuable player.

The university says it also is honoring the 82-year-old Howe for his philanthropic work, including his Howe Foundation, which raises money so youngsters can play the game.

They couldn't have made a better choice.

Up against it -- San Jose Sharks coach Todd McLellan has proven to be a very good coach during his career, and certainly his acumen has been on display in San Jose the last two seasons.

But he knows trying to come out ahead of Chicago's Joel Quenneville will take a heap of coaching on his part.

"Joel is sharp," McLellan told reporters. "He didn't enter the League yesterday. He's been around for a long, long time. He's been with some tremendous staffs and worked with some of the best players in the world and learned from them.

"So he has a game plan, and he's very committed to it. He wants to continue to execute it as we go along.

"His teams are very aggressive. They certainly believe in him. So they've got the right staff there for that team, and they've certainly responded to it."

Well Said IV -- "When I found out Dale was available and interested, that's where I went, and I never wavered from that. In as short of a time period as he can manage, we'll have a hell of a lot more exciting days and games in this building in the month of May. It's been a while since we've had it and I'm firmly convinced he can lead us back to those days." -- Florida Panthers President Bull Torrey on hiring Dale Tallon as GM.