Florida Panthers

Leaving Florida cost Brian Campbell millions but he’s happy back home in Chicago

Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell speaks to the media before facing his former teammates and the Florida Panthers on Tuesday at United Center.
Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell speaks to the media before facing his former teammates and the Florida Panthers on Tuesday at United Center. @SpiegelSports

Brian Campbell doesn’t shy away from admitting he lost a lot of money in the offseason.

He also doesn’t seem to miss it all that much.

Campbell turned down what was could have ended up to be $4 million with the Florida Panthers – for whom he spent the past five seasons.

Instead, Campbell took $2.25 for this season from his (adopted) hometown Chicago Blackhawks.

Happiness, Campbell says, outweighs everything else.

"I’m extremely, extremely happy," Campbell said before he met his former Florida teammates on the ice for the first time Tuesday night. The Blackhawks beat the Panthers 2-1 in a shootout.

"I think there was a little feeling out process, but I feel pretty settled in right now and couldn’t be more happy where I am with my decision and playing with these guys. Everything has been great, first class all the way.

"I’m smiling now, I’m happy. I don’t look back and I know I made the right decision when I signed here. I did it for my family and for myself as a hockey player. Hopefully I have a bunch of years left but I want to make the most of them."

The Panthers tried to keep Campbell in South Florida, letting he and his agent know they wanted him to return with the thought a two-year, $8 million deal would have been the starting point.

With Campbell not returning, the Panthers looked elsewhere and swung a deal with the Rangers for the negotiating rights to Keith Yandle and ended up inking him to a seven-year contract worth and average of about $6.4 million per season – which is a little less that what Campbell has been paid by the Panthers the past five seasons.

For Campbell, leaving the Panthers didn’t have as much to do with the hockey as it did to returning to a place he considered his home.

Although Campbell only played three seasons with the Blackhawks after then-GM Dale Tallon gave him a eight-year, $57-million contract as a free agent in 2008, his roots in Chicago began to grow deep.

While with the Hawks, Campbell not only won a Stanley Cup in 2010, but met his future wife in Chicago.

Upon being traded to the Panthers in 2011, Campbell kept his Chicago home as Lauren flew back-and-forth to South Florida.

With two daughters, that commute was tougher to do so the Campbells spent their hockey season living in Broward County and their summers in Illinois.

When Campbell had a chance to go back to Chicago full-time, he jumped at it.

By rejoining the Blackhawks, Campbell said with a grin "we got an extra week of [Chicago] summer this year" fully aware of the months of winter he’s about to endure.

The money, he said, wasn’t much of a concern as his previous contract helped with the decision.

"I really don’t know what to say about it," Campbell said. "I was lucky enough to sign a nice contract, I don’t know, I’m happy, you know? What’s the price tag on that?

"You look at everything and I enjoyed my time there, I’ll never forget it. Both of our daughters lived there.

"But I’m happy. I’m still compensated very well, I feel. I come home every night. It’s a nice feeling. I go to work, but we’re all happy as a family and those things outweigh things."