by Nick Chacos || AHL On The Beat Archive
For those who have followed the Manchester Monarchs — or have been around Andrew Campbell since he came to Manchester — it is no surprise that he is wearing the captain’s "C" on his jersey this season.
Campbell, who had served as an alternate captain for the club the past two seasons, is now in his sixth season with the Monarchs after being drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.
A consistent contributor to the Monarchs’ efforts on the ice, Campbell has played in over 70 games per season in four of the past five seasons and has increased his plus/minus rating in each of the last three. But beyond his ability to help the team on the ice, he also plays a valuable role in the community, regularly volunteering with various organizations that strive to make a positive impact on the lives of young people and children in local areas. He is a weekly volunteer at Manchester Boys & Girls Club, and donates tickets so kids can come to games throughout the season.
Coming into this season in particular, the Monarchs needed a leader like Campbell to emerge in order to fill a huge void created by the parting of Marc-Andre Cliche, who had served as team captain the previous three seasons before joining the Colorado Avalanche. Campbell has benefitted by playing for three different captains throughout his time with the Monarchs: Marty Murray, who spent eight seasons with several different NHL teams; Drew Bagnall, who is now with the Rochester Americans; and Cliche. Most notably, Campbell developed a close relationship with Cliche and looks to carry on his legacy by leading the team in all aspects of the game on and off the ice.
Monarchs head coach Mark Morris sees Campbell as the player on the team who can carry on the tradition of the team’s strong captains before him.
“I know that he really had a lot of respect for the guys that he was with during his career,” said Morris. “I’ve heard him frequently talk about things that either Cliche or Bagnall have done that he really held in high regard and I expect that he’ll have the same standards and really embrace the role as a go-to guy in the community and in the locker room.
“He’s one of those guys who really understand what the role encompasses. A lot of times, it’s being that go-between between the players and the coaches and being a conduit to try to make things work smoothly. He’s been a good spokesman. Also, you need to learn how to follow before you can lead. He was a good lieutenant when he was wearing the ‘A’ and I think that now that he is the lead guy, I’m sure that he’ll value the input that the other guys in the room have on how things can work better.”
When asked about some of the positive traits he’s picked up from previous captains, it was clear that Campbell had tremendous respect for the example they set for the team.
“You know, all three of them were different,” explained Campbell. “Marty Murray was pretty quiet but worked really hard on the ice. (Bagnall) was more of the loud, outspoken, ‘rah-rah’ type who would get everyone fired up and tell it like it is. Cliche was kind of a mixture of both. He worked really hard on the ice and was also vocal when he needed to be. All three were great in their own way, and different.”
Campbell added that being able to watch these captains in action has helped him develop some of the same characteristics, allowing him to take on a stronger role as a leader in the locker room and during practice sessions.
“I try to push all the younger guys to get better, to work every day on and off the ice, let them know when they’re doing things right and try to help them when they’re not,” said Campbell.
On whether or not being named team captain has changed his approach to practice and his relationship with his teammates, Campbell insisted that consistency in attitude and work ethic are more important than trying to impose his leadership onto others.
“No, it shouldn’t change anything,” stated Campbell. “You still come to the rink every day; it’s your job. You’re here to improve and work hard to get better. You hope that they’re watching you and taking your lead and you’re encouraging them to push themselves to get better on and off the ice.”
With the challenge of bringing in some new talent to Manchester during the offseason, Campbell was one of the players to step forward and take the reins to help those players get settled and adjust to life as a Monarchs players. In the locker room and during practice, Campbell has served as a model for the younger players to emulate in order to understand the Monarchs culture. A student of the game, the captain also acts as a player-coach with the new players, whether it is their first year of experience in the AHL or their first season on the team.
“He’s a guy that’s so consistent,” said Vey about Campbell. “You look at him; he plays his game each and every night, a guy that does everything for the team. He’s good in the locker room and on the ice. He’s a guy that’s going to block shots; he’ll make a hit, take a hit, and make plays. He’s just a role model on and off the ice.”
Bodnarchuk, who came to Manchester last year after spending four seasons with the Bruins organization in Boston and Providence, praised Campbell’s professionalism and ability to help the team.
“He knows the city and he’s a good guy for the new guys coming in to help out and get them comfortable,” said Bodnarchuk. “He’s a level-headed, calm guy and I think he’s a good guy to look up to, a good professional. I wouldn’t say so much his vocal leadership, but his coming to the rink early, his habits on and off the ice, and I think, as a young guy, and even the guys who’ve been here for a couple years, look at (a player) like that and take little bit from what they do on a day-to-day basis away from the rink and taking care of yourself. I think that’s important at the AHL level for guys to come in and see and learn how to be a professional.”
Campbell’s ability to make a positive impression on the younger players who are looking to prepare themselves for the jump to the NHL goes beyond developing good habits and working hard to improve during practice. Coach Morris emphasized that it is Campbell’s willingness to battle for his teammates that solidifies him as the model candidate for a leader in this organization.
“I think, at times, he plays a real courageous game,” said Morris. “(Campbell’s) a guy that’s willing to block shots and put his neck on the line for the sake of his teammates, and because of that, he’s earned a ton of respect from the staff and also from his teammates. I think people that have watched his game over time can now appreciate what he means to the Monarchs and you like to see a guy like that have success.”