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February 16, 2016

Bryan Campbell

Bryan Campbell started his pro career in the Los Angeles Kings' system. A clever center, it was not long before he was clearly too good for the minor leagues. Yet, at the same time, he was not good enough to be an every day player with the Kings. Through the Kings first three seasons Campbell was a part time player who could not find a regular role.

Fast forward to 1970. The Chicago Black Hawks swing a big deal with the Kings to land defenseman Bill White, and have Campbell included as a throw in. He turned out to be that season's most pleasant surprise in Chicago, if not the entire NHL.

Campbell went from unable to play with an expansion team to center Chicago's top line with the legendary Bobby Hull on left wing, and Chico Maki on right wing. The 27 year old found good chemistry with Hull. Campbell's 17 goals and 37 assists were dwarfed by Hull's 44 goals and 96 points, but Campbell garnered a lot of praise for his two way play.

The Hawks marched all the way to the Stanley Cup final in the spring of 1971, but Campbell was forced out of the line up for all but four playoff games thanks to a severe throat infection. The Hawks could not match Montreal's depth up the middle and, as a result, missed Campbell's quiet contributions.

"I feel like I'm playing with Phil Esposito or Red Hay again," said Hull

Despite that lofty praise, Pit Martin and Stan Mikita took over as Hull's centers the next season. As a result Campbell was reduced to a checking role. He did get in 75 games with the Hawks, but only scored five time and just 18 points.

Campbell, like so many NHL players in the summer of 1972, jumped to the upstart rival league, the World Hockey Association. He would have several strong scoring seasons in his six seasons in the WHA, spread among four franchises.


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