The best players in the American Hockey League will be gathering in Springfield, MA at the end of January for the annual All-Star Classic. Earlier this week, the two captains for the game were named. Colin McDonald of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms will be the Eastern Conference captain while Rockford IceHogs defenseman Andrew Campbell will captain the Western Conference. The honor has been a long time coming for Campbell.
Leadership and Service Pays Off for Campbell
Each year, the AHL president selects the captains for the All-Star Classic based on their “outstanding leadership and service,” two things that Campbell has built his career on. Campbell, who is currently an alternate captain with the IceHogs, has played in 679 AHL games with five different teams: the Manchester Monarchs, Portland Pirates, Toronto Marlies, Tucson Roadrunners and the IceHogs. He has served as either a captain or alternate captain on all five teams.
“It’s very cool,” Campbell said after learning of the honor. “It’s my first time going to the event – an event, had it not been for this honor, with the way I play the game and my skill set and what not, I probably never would have got the chance to play in. It will definitely be fun to go there and try not to embarrass myself and do what I can to fit in. I am really looking forward to it.”
Congratulations to #IceHogs defenseman Andrew Campbell, who was today named a captain (Western Conference) for the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic!
Campbell is Rockford's first player to be named a captain for the All-Star Game!
— Rockford IceHogs (@goicehogs) December 20, 2018
It has been over a decade since Campbell was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round of the 2008 Entry Draft. While he has played in 42 NHL games in his career, he has been a staple on AHL blue lines for 11 seasons. Think of Campbell as the Crash Davis of hockey. The 30-year-old veteran has not forgotten all the sacrifices that had to be made in order for him to have a long professional hockey career.
“It’s a big honor for my family,” he said. “It means a lot to me to think back to all past coaches, trainers, teammates and my friends and family who have supported me to play this long.”
Campbell has Been an Ideal Fit with Rockford
When the announcement was made, there were some Chicago Blackhawks fans who had no idea that Campbell was even in the organization. He was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in the deal that sent Vinnie Hinostroza, plus Marian Hossa’s contract, out west. Making sure Campbell was part of the return was a savvy move by the Blackhawks’ front office.
The IceHogs have a roster full of young, up-and-coming defensemen. Players like Lucas Carlsson, Carl Dahlstrom, Dennis Gilbert and Darren Raddysh are in the early stages of their professional careers and are trying to reach the ultimate goal of playing in the NHL. Adding a veteran of nearly 700 AHL games to the young locker room was an easy decision.
“It’s just a great group of guys,” Campbell said of IceHogs. “We really stick together. We don’t have, probably, the most talent in the world, but we’re a hard-working group.”
There haven’t been many scenarios that Campbell hasn’t seen over his long career. He was in the lineup on Wednesday night when the IceHogs found themselves down 3-0 to the Milwaukee Admirals in the first period and came back to win 4-3 in overtime.
The Springfield Thunderbirds will be hosting the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic. The MassMutual Center will be the site for the All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, Jan. 27. The following day, Monday, Jan. 28, will include not only the All-Star Challenge but also the AHL Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Ceremony.