BostonBruins.com — It's always a little jarring to see Gregory Campbell off of the ice.
The ever-trendy fashion fan, often bedecked in a new suit (or jeans or what have you) is in stark contrast to the game-faced Merlot line-leading center known best for his tenacity, his pugilistic leanings, and general disdain for his opponents.
I think that's exactly why his family's farm in Tillsonburg, Ontario — and it's ubiquitous red barn — remains one of my all-time favorite BostonBruins.com stops.
Never mind that when you step into the setting it’s as if you've entered a folk painting. Never mind that the inside of the edifice reminds me of the movie “Youngblood.“ The Campbell farm and everything in and around the grounds make you understand the fire that drives the B's forward and lends keen insight into how Gregory maintains his understanding and role on the Boston Bruins.
"I would just spend hours and hours, and it’s funny because you think I’d have a better shot spending hours in here taking shots," joked Campbell when we visited him in August.
"I just set that net up…and just spend hours in the summer shooting here."
Honestly, for anyone who ever dreamed of making a professional roster and improvised their own workouts in their basement, back lot or living room, to see where it started so simply for Campbell was comforting and helped me feel less futile as I recalled my own ramshackle routines in my parents backyard, garage, and cellar.
However, that's where any similarities between Campbell and the rest of us cease.
"There’s a hill behind my house over there where I did a lot of 'hills' on," said Gregory of the daunting 45-degree grade grassy gully he said used to repeatedly run/scale for cardio training. "I’d kind of make up workouts on my own at an early age and do those workouts.
"There was kind of no rhyme or reason to these workouts but I would kind of just use the facilities that I had, and do a lot of the stuff outside, so I guess it’s a little bit unique, but it was what I had, and I enjoyed it," explained Campbell. "It was different, it wasn’t necessarily going to the gym every day and pumping iron and doing the routine stuff, but it was kind of how I got started."
Campbell allowed that he had a good role model in his father Colin, who played over 600 NHL as a defenseman in the NHL, later coached the New York Rangers (and who currently holds the title of Director of Hockey Operations for the NHL), but also insisted that it was his own desire to make the NHL, which fueled his fire.
"It was never really intimidating for me as far as feeling like I was pressured to make the NHL," said the younger Campbell. "[His career] was something I enjoyed, but I never felt pressured to go to the rink, it was something I did on my own will, and both my parents were amazing in that aspect."
And Gregory greatly appreciated that unconditional support.
"They knew I loved doing it; they supported me in whatever road I would have chosen," he said. "If I would have just wanted to go to school and gone into a different field that would have been fine with them.
"So, I was lucky to have a lot of the experiences that I did, but on the flip-side of that, personally, it might have fueled me to want to get to that level, and to have those experiences myself.
"But it was my dream that I was chasing, and not my dad’s or anyone else’s," he said.
In the Campbell barn there's also a blackboard where that dream-filled boy practiced his autograph and a smiling Gregory enjoyed talking about simpler times.
"This is cheesy but, I did [enjoy] movies like “Rocky” and things like that, where things were done in kind of an old school way," said Campbell. "I enjoy coming back here.
"The simplicity of it for me is most unique — and it’s a different atmosphere than I’m used to all the time — so it definitely has a special place for me."
BostonBruins.com — As he prepared for this upcoming season, Tyler Seguin talked about the memories that motivate his offseason workouts.
Two of those memories revolve around summertime trips to the park and visits with Lord Stanley.
Last year, Seguin brought the Stanley Cup home to Brampton's Chinguacousy Park, but a decade earlier, when Tyler wore the colors of Whitby, Ontario, the impressionable young player was lucky enough to be on hand when the Colorado Avalanche's Adam Foote brought the jug to that city's Iroquois Park.
"I just got off the floor playing lacrosse for the Whitby Warriors," said Seguin. "I got to see the Cup for the first time.
"I remember I apparently I didn’t touch it but I do have a picture of it somewhere at home so hopefully I can find that."
Chances are good that Seguin has plenty of pictures of last year’s summertime activities with Stanley—and if he doesn't have one handy, his friends from Brampton certainly do.
"I remember I was at a local place watching Game 7 when he won against Vancouver," said good friend Matt Azeveo, who joined Tyler for dinner when we interviewed Seguin in Toronto last month. "I mean you kind of feel so proud that it almost brings you to tears a little bit.
"You’re seeing your good friend up on the TV winning the Cup and being a symbol in Brampton.
"A lot of people look up to him in Brampton," added Matt. "It was pretty wild when he brought it home for sure."
And bringing Lord Stanley's famous bowl back to Brampton remains a consistent motivating factor for Seguin.
"Being able to bring it to Chinguacousy park in Brampton and letting all the fans see it and take a picture with me," was how Tyler described his recollection of the day. "There were a couple thousand more people than we expected showing up, so it was a bit longer of a time there than expected.
"But I was that kid not even a decade ago going up trying to take a picture, so it’s always pretty cool and remarkable to be the guy holding the Cup this time around and hopefully I can do it again."
BostonBruins.com -- Until you look at his career stats, it simply doesn't occur to you just how far Rich Peverley's come since first donning his skates on the youth rinks of Guelph, Ontario.
From the Milton Merchants of the OPJHL to the NCAA's St. Lawrence University Saints (of the ECAC) to the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays and Reading Royals to AHL stops with the Portland Pirates and the Milwaukee Admirals and finally to three NHL cities, Peverley's hockey experiences have been as varied as the jerseys which adorn the closet of his new home in Guelph.
When we visited the forward this summer, Peverley tried to encapsulate that amazing hockey journey as we viewed his memorabilia and as he talked about his career it seemed clear that the pragmatic forward attempted to maintain perspective even as he made the jump from student athlete to the three levels of professional hockey. However, it was also very apparent that Rich was grateful for each of his stops and the way that his work in each of those cities prepared him for his NHL time in Nashville, Atlanta and, eventually, the Stanley Cup-winning Boston Bruins.
"Not a lot of Canadians have the experience to play college hockey, most of them want to play major junior," explained Peverley of his beginnings in northern New York. "Being able to go to a US college was a lot of fun and you learn a lot of things, a lot of great experiences.
"They give us a jersey towards the end of our career it was really nice."
Also nice was Peverley's ability to then take the things he'd learned with the Saints with him to the Stingrays.
"The ECHL was a huge building block for myself," said Peverley of his time in South Carolina. "Coming out of college, I was a little young and it took me a little bit of time to adapt to the pro game.
"But being able to play that amount of time in the ECHL -- they dress fewer forwards -- it was a lot of fun. It was the NHL lockout in 04-05 so to be able to go down there it was a pretty good league and it is today.
"For myself it was a really good development tool," he said.
For the NHL clubs that use the ECHL as a proving ground that development is the whole point. As such, Peverley said he was pleased to hear that the Stingrays have since become the B's ECHL affiliate.
"In my opinion, probably one of the top ECHL programs that they have going right now," said Peverley of the Stingrays. "It was a great place to play; a tremendous city, Charleston, South Carolina.
"I still keep in touch with a lot of people in the organization there, so like I said it was invaluable for myself."
Peverley's time in the AHL -- mostly with the Milwaukee Admirals -- was also invaluable.
"When you get to the American League you truly understand that you’re only one step away," said Peverley. "When I was in the ECHL, the NHL seemed a little bit like a pipe dream, but when you finally make it to the American League you’re playing with players that are being sent down from the NHL you really truly believe that…you’re really close and you believe in your abilities."
The Predators believed in Peverley, too - so much so, that Peverley never actually got to use one of the jerseys in his collection, his AHL All-Star sweater.
"I didn’t play," said Peverley. "I got the jersey – I had a choice; I was with Nashville at the time and they said you can go play…but I would've missed a practice with the team in Nashville and I would have had to be late, almost, for a game, which was actually in Boston, so I chose to stick with the team and I think it was probably the best thing."
Given that he was living his dream in the NHL and playing against the world’s best, Rich fondly recalled experiences in Nashville and Atlanta.
"They support their team really well and it’s a unique experience to go to a hockey game there," said Peverley of the Predators, his first NHL city. "It’s a very loud building and I really enjoyed my time in Nashville.
"They gave me a great opportunity to get in the NHL and a lot of teams don’t give their players that aren’t drafted a chance to play in the National Hockey League, they usually bring up their drafted players.
"I wasn’t drafted and I owe them a big thank you."
Peverley also passed along similar kudos to his friends in Atlanta organization, which subsequently moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
"The fans that were there were very supportive and we were lucky to have them because the team might not have been there as long as it [was] if the fans didn’t push to keep it as long as they did," said Rich.
"Atlanta was a great place to play," added Peverley. "I was very lucky…they picked me up off waivers [because] I could have been in the American League if they didn’t pick me up.
"So I’m very lucky that I had the opportunity in Atlanta."
Also lucky was Peverley's eventual shift to Boston.
"When I first got traded I knew we had a chance," said Peverley. "But when you’re going through the process of the playoffs - you really believe.
"And the more you win the more you believe in yourself and you believe in your teammates."
As Peverley looked at his framed Boston jersey, he added, wistfully, "It was just an incredible experience and something you want to relive again."
TORONTO, Ontario -- I'm sitting here typing with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (filmed locally) playing in the background, chomping on pizza (pizza) washed down by chocolate milk (as I couldn't track down any Coke Zero) contemplating my whirlwind Tuesday tour of Toronto with local boy (and Bruins forward) Tyler Seguin and his GTA-based entourage of 20-somethings.
The whole day, beginning with my own late-night stop at Sonic Boom (a terrific record shop) all the way through apps at Real Sports had me reminiscing about my own college days. But the surprising thing was that Tuesday's trip around T.O. had Seguin recounting his own school days, too.
In the process, I uncovered yet another facet of Boston's budding superstar.
After a workout and skate at his school, St. Michael's College School, Seguin said that he had his eye on a Maize and Gold jersey way before he first donned his Black & Gold sweater at the 2010 draft.
"I came to Saint Mike's in the eighth grade and I came here because I went to Red Berenson's Michigan [hockey] camps growing up," said Seguin. "That’s the University of Michigan. That was kind of my dream growing up since my dad did go to college [to play hockey].
"And at the time, I knew a lot of guys went to the Saint Michael's Buzzers," added Seguin. "That was kind of my goal, so I wanted to go to this school and make this junior-A team.
"And I think by the ninth -- or probably early tenth grade -- I started growing a bit more and heading into my OHL draft year and last second kind of decided to go the old OHL route…and it’s kind of funny I ended up still in Plymouth, Michigan. So I did have the chance to go down to U of M and watch a couple games here and there," he said.
Saint Michael's is a hockey factory and even though Seguin played his hockey with the Plymouth Whalers, Seguin said his school experience was important.
"I mean, even though I didn’t end up playing for this team or going to college I still took a lot away from it," said Tyler as he surveyed the old rink. "This was a very, very professional school, professional atmosphere.
"You know you’d wear a tie and pretty much a blazer and dress pants to school every single day and yes it was all-boys school but in the end I think just knowing all the hockey guys that went here and learning from a lot of guys that came and visited and they’d give a little speeches here and there.
"And being a young kid I still took a lot away."
Seguin's still young, but he's no longer a kid. However, that doesn't stop his stomach from getting into a knot as he steps on school grounds every morning - he always feels as if he forgot his homework!
And when he was traveling to school there was no going back to Brampton.
"Yeah, it was pretty intense for two years," he said. "My mom would wake me up at about 6 a.m. to go to downtown Brampton which was about a twenty-minute drive at the time to catch a bus.
"I’d take that bus to Yorkdale Mall, which is about probably 40-45 minutes in the morning. From there I’d hop on a subway and take it to St. Claire street which was another about 20 minutes and then from there I’d walk about three of four blocks to get to my first class," he said.
"So I’d do my best to make my first class every day, but it was definitely a haul every day to make it."
But Seguin has made it - literally. Already NHL sniper, Tyler has a Stanley Cup ring and a terrific career ahead of him. Even so, a look at the plaques and pictures in the Buzzers' home rink leaves him humbled.
"It’s definitely an honor [to have gone to St. Michael's]," said Seguin. "Coming back, I run into my teachers all the time.
"I’ll get messages from them just to meet their kids outside of school here because they want to train here and I think that’s definitely something you definitely feel proud about when your old teachers…want [you] to meet their kids."
That said, some of the staff remember a young Seguin begging to borrow a tie for the day as he hurried onto campus.
"Yeah. I can’t believe they still remember that," said a smiling Seguin, who said he'd often lose neck wear on the way to school. "It was definitely a long day every day I came to school, but it was for my dream."
TILLSONBURG, Ontario - For nearly 20 minutes, bostonbruinsTV waited patiently for Gregory Campbell to say something into the wireless microphone mounted to his hockey equipment during a late-morning skate at a rink in Waterloo. But in that entire time all we heard, besides the crunch of skates and the slap of the puck, was a focused silence.
However, after practice, when asked about the reasons so many of the Bruins make it a priority to return to their hometowns, Campbell was downright verbose.
"As much as I love Boston, I think, for me I think family is one of the most important things," he said. "I think for a lot of players [feel] it’s nice to get away from, I guess, your place of work for a while and enjoy your time with your family.
"For me, it’s my immediate and extended family who’s all from this area, and obviously my current family now with my new wife and her family’s from this area. So I think it’s just a place where I’m comfortable with being; a place that I don’t get to spend a lot of time, being in Boston eight to ten months of the year and a place where I get to come home and see my friends and people that I don’t get to see a lot and kind of enjoy a different side of life.
"As I said, as much as I love Boston and I love the people there and the city itself, this is my home," added Campbell of Ontario. "This is where I’ll settle when I’m done playing and it’s just a comfortable place for me to relax, but at the same time focus on what I have to do for the upcoming season."
But it's not that difficult for Campbell, who wears a trademark "game face" much of the time when he is in New England, to remain focused on hockey and the forward admitted that at times taking a step back from the rink has been difficult.
As such, the rolling green hills and fields of his native Tillsonburg or the more laid-back environment in the Kitchener/Waterloo area seem to create a respite that allows Campbell to smile a little easier.
"Yeah, I think it’s something that I’ve struggled with in my career," said Campbell. "It is finding that balance between being focused and being intense, but also letting myself enjoy myself ultimately and relax.
"You know, once the season starts it’s such a grind and there’s no telling how long the season’s going to go. Obviously two years ago we played for 10 months over 100 games and that takes a toll on you, and not only for one year but constantly if you want to be a player that enjoys a long successful career.
"I think you have to be able to step away to give yourself not only your body, but your mind, a break."
However, winning the Stanley Cup helped Campbell learn how to fine tune his focus.
"I think that with winning put things in perspective as far as the time we got off last year," said Campbell. "You know, basically we had two months off before we had to start the new season, and it kind of forced me to take a step back this year and use the time.
"Unfortunately, we were out a little too early, but it forced me to step back and use the time in a productive way – meaning letting myself rest, letting my body letting my mind relax and recharge and be ready to go at it again this year."
As Campbell traveled along Ontario's roads with his dog Wally, it was easy to see why he makes it a priority to take the foot off the gas. But as soon as talk turned to the upcoming season, the game face returned and so did Soup's slow boil.
However, Gregory quickly recognized the switch and smiled widely.
"I know that’s the knock on me a lot especially in the dressing room that I 'game face' a lot and, you know, I’m too serious," said Campbell. "So for me to change that it’s been a struggle, but I think to be successful you have to allow yourself to adapt and change, you know, you can’t be stuck in your ways because the game is always changing.
"I’m changing. I’m getting older and I have to allow myself more of a break sometimes.
"But, you know, for the time being, you know, the summer time…so I have found different ways to unwind and let loose a little bit."
GUELPH, Ontario -- Given what he's achieved, Rich Peverley could be excused if he were satisfied.
But even as the Ontario-native showed us around his beautiful new home in Guelph, he pointed out that in his experience -- and there's been plenty of experiences for Rich in the NCAA, ECHL, AHL and NHL -- nothing feeds dreams like achieving them.
However, even the bright August sunshine on a pristine Canadian day couldn't hide the dark look in Pev's eyes as his thoughts drifted to his most recent hockey season.
"We were able to win the Stanley Cup…but after you spend a year being knocked out of the playoffs first round after winning the Cup it definitely drives you to go back and to win it again," said Peverley. "It’s not the same type of life you want to live.
"You want to live being a winner and winning is the ultimate goal."
But beyond Peverley's obvious disappointment regarding the 2011-12 campaign, there's no doubt in my mind that Rich was always a winner.
And despite his being sheepish about showing the BostonBruins.com and bostonbruinsTV crew some of the memorabilia he's collected along his hockey journey (most of which was in a plastic bin that had until recently resided at his parents' house), the pride Pevs has put into each step of the way is apparent.
Even so, I asked Rich what, if anything, his 30-year-old self would tell the 19-year-old St. Lawrence University skater to change as he embarked on his career.
Peverley thought for a second, looked around, and with the sounds of his happy family cascading over the backyard pool just shook his head.
"Yeah I wouldn’t go back at all," said Peverley. "These are just learning steps that you always have to take and it’s a learning curve.
"I’ve learned a lot through my experiences and I think that that’s the ultimate learning tool," he added. "So, you know, I wouldn’t change anything."
STAMFORD, CT -- Today Torey Krug took time out of his formidable training schedule to take BostonBruins.com around his offseason home base of Stamford, Connecticut.
But even as "Freddy" (think Krug-er) escorted bostonbruinsTV's camera in and around his favorite spots in Southern Connecticut, the young defenseman obviously had his mind on his afternoon workout.
Each move we made in Connecticut was based solely on his regimen - lunch at the (very) healthy buffet at the local supermarket, a very quick stop in downtown Stamford (so he didn't get to far afield of his gym) and a short sightseeing stop in Rowayton.
Krug (who this time last year was settling into his second season as captain of the of the Michigan State Spartans) is a smart player and clearly understands what he needs to do in order to earn a spot with the Black & Gold in September. And, having forgone his senior season at his beloved MSU, Krug isn't inclined to let his chance slip away.
Torey talked about becoming leaner and stronger as he placed leafy greens, chicken and broccoli on his plate at lunch and displayed a single-minded intensity as he ran through a gut-busting workout designed to improve his explosiveness.
Throughout the day, the blueliner, known by many in collegiate circles as a offensive-minded defenseman, made his well-rounded intentions clear.
"When you look at smaller defensemen in the NHL you think they’re probably all offensive defensemen," said Krug. "We have to do that because that’s what makes us unique and that’s what makes us stick.
"But at the same time, you’ve got to take care of your own zone otherwise you’re not going to get the job done and they’re not going to put you on the ice."
Thanks to his two-game stint in the NHL, Krug understands that what he does on the ice is only part of the equation, and as he spoke to BBTV's camera for the final time this afternoon, the defenseman was clear in his intent.
"I'm not exactly satisfied with where I am at yet this summer," said Krug. "I made a lot of good strides; good improvement - got a lot stronger. This is the strongest I've ever been.
"But I think the second you get complacent is the second you stop getting better."
Sights around historic Quebec City, Patrice Bergeron's home away from Boston.
QUEBEC CITY, Quebec -- It might be famous for its fortifications, but Quebec City's walls hold no metaphorical value in terms of its people, whose hospitality seems boundless.
Case(s) in point: the capital of le belle province boasts two Bruins as current inhabitants, and both Patrice Bergeron and Jordan Caron's willingness to show us around their home away from Boston was yet another major impetus to our packing up computer and camera to head north.
Like their B's brethren in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, both Bergeron and Caron showed immense pride in being from their province and went out of their way to make sure that bostonbruinsTV's cameras captured the essence of their home.
And hey, let's face it, after watching the Bruins Beat footage from Halifax, NS and Charlottetown/Cornwall, PEI, there might just have been a little bit of intra-Canadian competition brewing, too.
"I guess my favorite thing just for the city itself is probably old Quebec," said Bergeron, who was born in nearby Ancienne-lorette. "The way that we kept it as it is with all the history behind it.
"I’m very proud of that and I think everyone takes pride in it."
Although Caron grew up about four hours north of here, in rural Sayabec, that same pride in his Quebecois roots was apparent, as well.
"It’s a small town – like 2,000 people," explained Caron. "It’s a half hour from Rimouski.
"There’s a lot of farm, a lot of woods…there’s a lake; nice little houses by the lake, and you can go fishing - stuff like that.
"It’s always nice to go there and just relax," he said.
But the relaxing setting wasn't necessarily apparent as Caron worked toward a career in hockey and he thinks his upbringing in the Quebec countryside led him to the NHL.
"Well, there’s not much to do [in the winter] except playing hockey where I’m from," laughed Caron about the less than nice winters here. "I had to drive up to school for 30-minutes, because that’s where my team was and then I went to school there.
"I was driving up in the morning and then coming back for dinner, so I didn’t have much time to do anything else than playing hockey."
Bergeron may have lived closer to the big city, but he also thinks that the culture in greater Quebec and around Quebec City certainly influenced his career.
"Yeah I think so. I mean growing up in Quebec city back in the nineties the Nordiques were a big part of our culture and hockey was a huge part of our culture," said Bergeron. "Now that they’re gone, the hockey culture and hockey community is still there; people still love the game it’s still part of our childhood.
"That’s what we saw today," added Bergeron of the many children who sought out Patrice and Jordan as they worked through their off-ice and on-ice practices.
"They want to learn and they want to improve and they just love the game.
"I think it’s neat to see that," added Bergeron. "Kids need that when they grow up –- is to have a passion and to have a goal and to go for it."
Big kids need goals (on and off the ice, too) and Bergeron and Caron made their desires clear both in their words and their actions on the football field and in the rink.
"I didn’t have the chance to play in the playoffs two years ago, but…I was there and I saw everything and it makes me want to be a part of it," said Caron. "It wasn’t fun this year coming back [home] after the first round, and it makes you want to go all the way again."
Bergeron's smile, which had been omnipresent since the pair finished their workouts, diminished when he talked about last spring's short playoff run.
"Well obviously there’s some unfinished business when you’re done in the first round and that’s something that you want to bring in your workouts and bring over the summer and try to work on things and get better," said Patrice. "You want to be hungrier when you come to training camp and obviously during the season.
"You know, it’s a long season but it’s something that you want to accomplish again," continued Bergeron. "Winning the Cup in 2011 was something very special, a dream come true, but once you taste it you want more and you want to relive it because it’s the best feeling ever and that’s the only feeling that you’re satisfied."