Other forces at work in Campbell's decision?

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

Did Brian Campbell act in his own best interest by turning down a deal with the Buffalo Sabres, which led to his being traded to the San Jose Sharks?

That question has emerged as an emotional Campbell moved west and hardly looked happy about it.

There are those who suggest that Campbell was under great pressure, quite possibly from the Players' Association, not to sign a deal in Buffalo that would have undercut the market place of a high-end free agent defenceman.

That is, too often, the dilemma for a pending free agent: Does the player do what is right for himself, or does he stand up for the supposed greater good of his union brethren?

By interpreting Campbell's body language and hearing his spoken words, it was clear he didn't want to or wasn't ready to leave Buffalo. Maybe he should have spoken to Ray Bourque or Martin Brodeur, about the success athletes can have in singular markets, earning less than they could somewhere else.

Campbell was happy and successful with the Sabres: It was the team he developed with, became a commodity with. His future may be financially ensured. His hockey happiness is another matter entirely.

THIS AND THAT

Just another reason to scream about Mats Sundin's unwillingness to allow the Maple Leafs to trade him: Word is now circulating that Anaheim general manager Brian Burke was prepared to part with Edmonton's first round pick -- a likely lottery pick -- in any deal for Sundin. That could have provided the Leafs with potentially two lottery picks ... Isn't this typical Leaf: This team can't even bottom out properly ... If you do the math, it would cost the Leafs $1 million a season for the next six seasons to buy Darcy Tucker out of his contract come June. And don't bet that won't be considered seriously by current management or their successors ... The list of people to become the permanent replacement for Cliff Fletcher has yet to be drawn up, but Burke, Ken Holland and Lou Lamoriello are the obvious names that attract the Leafs search committee. But if you assume none of those are available, and you include Bob Gainey in the next rung of the unavailable, then the possibilities start to include Doug Wilson in San Jose and NHL executive Colin Campbell ... An e-mailer's response to the Wade Belak trade: "The Leafs get rid of the two worst players in the NHL. The worst forward and the worst defenceman."

HEAR AND THERE

Not only is Brent Sutter a strong candidate for coach of the year but he has to be the odds-on favourite to coach Team Canada's entry at the 2010 Olympic Games ... Other candidates for NHL coach of the year include: Claude Julien in Boston, Wayne Gretzky in Phoenix, Dave Tippett in Dallas and Guy Carbonneau in Montreal ... That John Paddock didn't work out in Ottawa is no real surprise. Never mind the goaltending mess and Bryan Murray's inability to fix it. How often does the assistant make it as a successful head coach on the same team? Why not ask Tony Granato or Jim Playfair how that worked out? ... Impressed with the job George McPhee has done as GM of the Washington Capitals. Not impressed with Dave Nonis of the Vancouver Canucks, whose team is crying out for help and he didn't supply any ... If this latest Peter Forsberg comeback doesn't work, will he be known as Floppa? ... Saw Paul Coffey on Pros vs. Joes. In just one episode of the TV show, he was more physical and knocked down more Joes than he managed in his entire Hall of Fame career.

SCENE AND HEARD

Bobby Knight, who once said he wanted to be buried upside down so the media could kiss his ass, is now one of us, having signed on to work for ESPN. Knight has become what he used to call "one of those damn people from television." ... Is this a gamble worth taking? Cecil Fielder, who lost hundreds of thousands casino gambling, is back in baseball managing an independent minor league team in Atlantic City, of all places ... Leafs hopeful Nikolai Kulemin isn't exactly lighting up the Russian Super League in scoring. He isn't in the top 25 in points and trails such notables as Oleg Saprykin, Jan Bulis and Alexander Perezhogen ... Fired: Sean Salisbury, former Grey Cup quarterback, who has been doing football commentary for ESPN forever. Butch Carter's famous brother, Cris, has taken his spot ... Isn't there something warm and soothing about turning on the radio on a snowy afternoon and hearing your first baseball game of what's still winter .. Condolences to the family of Ed Futerman, former Ben Johnson lawyer, who recently passed away.

AND ANOTHER THING

Bet on this: The Buffalo Bills almost certainly will play the Seattle Seahawks in the first NFL regular season game to be played in Canada at Rogers Centre this December. The official announcement should come next month ... Things are going so well for IBF champion Steve Molitor these days he's even winning in court. A lawsuit filed by his former trainer, Dewith Fraser, has been tossed out ... From the department of frightening but captivating, we give you Kimbo Slice, the new star of mixed martial arts, coming soon to a CBS affiliate near you ... An e-mailer wonders: "When Bryan McCabe signed a no-movement clause, did that extend to on the ice, as well?" ... Eli Manning won the Super Bowl but Tom Brady has been offered seven figures by Calvin Klein to do underwear ads ... Canadian Lucien Bute defended his world title Friday night and The Fight Network doesn't show the fight? Why? ... Those old concussions must be recurring for Nick Kypreos. How else to explain his suggestion that the Pittsburgh Penguins trade Evgeny Malkin? And hey, whatever became of Rick Ley?


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