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."
As a 20-year-old playing in the NHL, Tyler Seguin is in a much different situation than most of his Bruins teammates with families and children. Barely a decade ago, Tyler remembers going to see Adam Foote with the Stanley Cup - a fond memory for a young hockey player. But just last June, the forward was bringing Lord Stanley to his hometown of Brampton to share with friends and family.
When visiting Segs in his offseason home of downtown Toronto, BostonBruins.com got the chance to see "Tyler the friend" when we sat down at Real Sports in Toronto with him and his buddies - Matt Azevedo, a friend who grew up with him in Brampton, Ontario, along with professional hockey players Jesse Blacker and Tyler Brown.
Amidst laughs and pats on the back, the trio of friends shared how they've all grown together and matured - both on and off the ice.
All three men said that they were thrilled to see Seguin achieve major goals over the past three years and were excited to celebrate with him when Boston brought the Stanley Cup home for the first time in 39 years.
"I mean, when I planned on going down there it was, he actually wanted me to go down there earlier in the playoffs, but I wasn't able to, so I was like, 'If you make it to Game 6, I'll come down and hopefully you win it," said Flyers prospect Brown, a former teammate on the Plymouth Whalers. "I was only supposed to stay there like two days, but it turned out that I was there like a week and a half."
"And yeah, I got the privilege to get on the Duck Boat and see the millions of fans that were out there -- it was surreal and I was proud of him, because I've always been a close friend with him, and just seeing him win the Stanley Cup -- even when I got to pick him up from the rink when he got back after the flight, just seeing how happy he was and how happy everyone else was -- was definitely a big moment in my life to see that happen.
"It's just something I want to work towards so I get that chance," added Brown. "So it was definitely an experience."
A walk downtown with Tyler and Marshall.
We asked Tyler about his dog's name...
"I’m not sure I flipped through a lot of names," said Seguin. "His dad’s name was actually Marshall.
"His dad was a All-Canadian champion so he’s very, very smart. I can already see it with how he’s developed.
"He’s a pure-bred and I kind of just wanted something masculine and really strong and I just thought 'Marshall.'"
Check out Marshall's new trick, here...