https://www.thestar.com/sports/leafs/2022/07/15/im-going-to-miss-the-boys-popular-goalie-jack-campbell-briefly-reunites-with-former-maple-leafs-teammates.html

It wasn’t so much a goodbye as it was a reunion when Jack Campbell showed up at Mitch Marner’s charity event.

The popular now ex-Maple Leafs goalie was in good company, with ex-teammates like Marner and John Tavares and his new-again teammate Zach Hyman at a gala for the Marner Assist Fund.

Part of the money raised will go to mental health initiatives, something near and dear to Campbell.

“But he’s doing it for the kids. It’s just inspiring stuff,” said Campbell.

The goalie was trying to skirt the issue of why he left the Leafs for the Oilers. He didn’t want to get into the contract talks with the Leafs. Understandably perhaps because they apparently didn’t go well, and Campbell wears his heart on his sleeve.

But he was happy to talk about his opportunity in Edmonton, where he signed a five-year, $25 million US deal with a cap hit of $5 million, probably just a bit more than the Leafs were willing — or able — to pay.

“I’m so excited for my opportunity and so grateful for that and believing in me,” Campbell said of the Oilers. “They’ve got a bright future ahead, I mean, they went to the conference finals. They got all the pieces. They’re only growing. Just super honoured that they believe in me and to bring me in. Just can’t wait to get to work and accomplish our goal.”

But he will miss his Toronto.

“I love the fans. It’s tough. I’m going to miss the boys. It’s a special group and I wish them all the best. And they’ve got a bright future ahead.”

There were no hard feelings, only hugs between friends, when Campbell showed up at the event.

“Everyone is so happy for him,” said Marner. “He’s deserved this contract. There isn’t a guy that really works harder or perfects his craft more than Jack. He’s battled throughout his entire career really, to now earn this contract and get this money, he deserves it so much. Edmonton is a very lucky team to have him.”

Hyman gave Campbell a hug when he saw him..

“I congratulated him,” said Hyman. “It’s going to be great to have him out west.”

Captain John Tavares was also happy for his former goalie.

“Jack obviously came in and, things really took off for him,” said Tavares. “He really helped us at a critical time. And then the way he performed over the last couple of years, tremendous person, obviously a great goaltender and I’m really happy for him. He obviously got a great contract. That type of person, that type of type of player, you’re always going to miss.”

Kevin McGran is a Star sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @kevin_mcgran