Those expectations primarily stemmed from how Campoli was acquired by GM Bryan Murray -- a February 9th, 2009 trade that saw he and forward Mike Comrie come to the Senators in exchange for the first round pick acquired in the Andrej Meszaros trade. As Comrie was a fairly obvious rental, the trade amounted to Campoli for a first; this did not sit well with some Senators fans.
There has been speculation that his was brought in as Murray continued his search for offensively-gifted defensemen -- a reaction to an exposed deficiency in the Stanley Cup Finals not too long in the past. But while Campoli would have fit well on that high-flying team, the 2009 Senators were not the same beast, and his role was nebulous at best. Was he that puck moving guy? If so, why were his minutes limited? Was he a defensive guy? Was he an offensive guy? If so, why didn't he get many power play minutes?
How nebulous was he? His player profile for the team: He grew up playing hockey and he was traded to the Senators. No joke.
Chris Campoli: Player Profile (via senspedia)
An information goldmine right there, but that was the root of the problem: fans didn't know what to expect of him -- just that they expected more, because of the high price paid to acquire him. Of course, those expectations were as nebulous as his role. In that sense, it was a match from the start.
Campoli, similarly to Brian Lee, certainly deserves some blame for not making the most of his opportunities when they arose. What he cannot be blamed for is the state of the team he was on. His style fit an up-tempo, speedy, attacking team, and that's not how the Senators played under Cory Clouston. They didn't have the speed to play that game, and so Campoli hung in limbo.
No one would argue that he didn't have the talent to be an offensive contributor. His three point (1G, 2A), plus-4 night in a 5-7 loss to Detroit earlier this season showed exactly how effective he could be in a fast-paced game. On the nights when there was open ice, Campoli's skills were evident. There just weren't enough of those nights with the Senators. Any doubt of his value should be erased by the haul Murray was able to get for him at the trade deadline this year: a conditional 2011 second-round draft pick and Ryan Potulny
In the end, Chris Campoli was a good teammate, as his fight video against Cody Bass shows. Though his skill made him a tempting piece for Senate Reform, his inability to carve a niche for himself ultimately made him expendable. He was a good player for the Senators. He just wasn't the right player.
Chris Campoli: Training Camp Fight with Cody Bass (via senspedia)