Campbell "Part of Our Family"
BOSTON, MA - Gregory Campbell is just about everything you could want a 'Boston Bruin' to be.
Tough, hard to play against, not afraid to drop the gloves, will dive to knock the puck out of the zone, will work hard to put the puck in the net, and throw his body to block a shot, like when he sprawled out to block Evgeni Malkin's slapshot and wound up with a broken leg (of course, after he had finished his penalty kill shift on one leg).
Campbell's blue-collar mentality has been documented well on this site, ever since he was traded from Florida to Boston, with Nathan Horton, on June 22, 2010.
Recently, the centerman has been lauded for finishing that penalty kill shift and showing the "do whatever it takes" mentality. And really, it's not so much about the specific shift, but more that it was a glimpse into just what Campbell consistently brings to the Bruins and the character that the entire team represents.
"I've seen it a few times, just watching the games," said Campbell Tuesday of the shift, when addressing media for the first time since suffering the broken right fibula in Game Three against Pittsburgh at TD Garden.
"There's been an overwhelming amount of support for me. It's humbling, to be honest with you. The way I look at it, it might sound naïve of me, but I was just trying to do whatever I could to kill the penalty, help out. At that point I really wasn't thinking much."
"There are a lot of players right now that are playing not 100%, and there's a lot of guys that play through pain. I don't see myself any different than anybody else in this league. There's a lot of tough guys in this league. A lot of players are willing to do whatever they can to win."
For Campbell, he was just doing his job. It involves the aforementioned "hard to play against" type of hockey the Bruins' thrive on. But mostly, it was the center striving to be a good teammate.
"When I got traded to Boston, I thought it was tailor-made to my game the way this team exemplifies the heart and soul of what a hockey player should be made of. I was proud to come to this team and play hard for this team every night," said Campbell.
"There's 18 other guys in that room that would do the same thing [on the ice], and that's what makes us successful, and makes us a hard team to play against."
And naturally, most of the support rolling in since being away from the team going through surgery, came from teammates and staff.
"It was a tough week, not because of surgery, but just because I didn't feel a part of the team," said Campbell. "That's not because anybody, you know, left me out. I was included a lot. I got text messages every day from all the guys, even from staff."
"To walk in yesterday and see the guys, that was a great relief for me to know that they do still recognize me and I am still a part of the team," he smiled. "Being around the dressing room is just kind of second nature to me. I love being around the room. Having that taken away from you really makes you realize how fortunate I am to be a part of this team, a part of this group."
"It was like being separated from your family for a few days, then kind of rejoining them. That's kind of the feeling that I had."
Much like Campbell gives his all out on the ice, he also leaves nothing undiscovered when answering reporters' questions. He always gives a deep, honest answer. But while Campbell's words hold much weight, there's never a better way to understand his place in the spoked-B than hearing from his Coach and teammates.
"I think he exemplifies a lot of what we're all about. I've said it before, we take pride in being a blue-collar team," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "We don't care about calling certain guys superstars on our team. We all want to be on the same level."
"There's no doubt, we're happy to see him. He came in yesterday for the first time since we came back. Not only were the guys happy to see him, but they made him feel very welcome by getting on him shortly after he made his presence in the dressing room."
Now, the Fun Part….
Hearing from Coach and teammates about his presence back around the locker room revealed some loving remarks - both humorous and serious - that showed, once again, the close-knit nature of this group.
"They just jab him," said Julien, before opening a can of worms that the reporters then took into the locker room for media availability with the Bruins.
"I think he came in wearing shorts yesterday. He was well-dressed, but looked like a guy on vacation, according to the guys. They just gave him a jab," smirked Julien.
"But he's a guy we dearly miss. We've seen him do so many good things for our hockey club. It was a big loss when he got injured."
So what were the jabs about?
"I mean, I guess it wasn't yesterday, but today I was wearing white jeans," laughed Campbell. "Thorty said the last time he saw a pair of white jeans was when he got in a bar fight."
Thornton's joking ways are nothing new for Campbell and the Bruins' room.
"I don't want to talk about those," No. 22 jested of the infamous white pants. "There might have been a comment or two though. It’s endearing. You can’t give him a break just because he’s on crutches. We’re still boys here. You don't get a free pass."
'Soupy' has been long known (and jabbed) on this team for his sense of style. So the joking remarks the past few days regarding his attire have been nothing new.
"They always give me jabs about the way I'm dressed," laughed Campbell. "Doesn't matter if I'm playing or not."
"Obviously, we are pretty tight," said Thornton. "Our whole group’s pretty tight. I saw him walking in last night and it puts a smile on everyone’s face. He’s a great guy and everyone likes seeing him so I’m happy that he’s up and moving."
"I’m really glad that he’s doing okay. Obviously, he wants to be out there. There’s no bigger competitor than him, but he’s doing the best with the situation that has been dealt to him."
"I’m sure he knows he’s still part of this team," added Thornton. "Obviously, that’s the type of group we have. Guys go out of their way to make sure he knows it. He’s been around. Guys are happy when they see him. Everyone’s smiling when he’s in the room."
Besides Campbell getting smiles out of everyone, Milan Lucic also noticed the nice tan the centerman has going on. He and his teammates are a bit jealous.
"He always keeps himself well groomed so yes. He’s got a good one going on right now," laughed Lucic, who also enjoyed his recent attire choice.
"He keeps himself well groomed. He’s not afraid to step outside the box when it comes to his style as well," he added. "You know it’s pretty funny, ever since he’s come here, the style on the team has gotten a lot better as well."
"It's tough to see a guy like him not being able to play in the Stanley Cup Final because he is such a big part of the team and he’s played so well this year and in the playoffs," said Lucic. "We do our best to try to keep him involved and try to keep him a part of it."
"He’s a great team guy. He likes that camaraderie that comes in the dressing room. He’s usually chirping at someone about something. It’s give and take. It keeps us close as a team and that’s something that’s a lot of fun as well and we appreciate having him on the team."
Even a newer Bruin like Torey Krug notices the effect Campbell has on the room.
"He’s one of those guys that you feel his presence when he walks in the room," said the defenseman. "It’s great to have him back."
"One of the things you look at when you see a Boston Bruins team play is that blue-collar mentality. Guys are showing up to the rink every day 100 percent, indulged in everything. We don’t take shifts off. It’s a pretty cool sight to see when you see guys battling through things like that. Obviously to watch Soupy battle the way he did, bounce back, it’s crazy."
Whether it's Krug, or friend and longtime Merlot linemate Daniel Paille, the appreciation for Campbell is endless. To an outsider, it may seem over the top, but it's all true. And it sounds nice to hear it.
"With him not being able to be around us on the road, we definitely are going to enjoy his presence and just his comments on certain parts of the game," said Paille.
As in 2011 when Nathan Horton couldn't finish the Cup run, the Bruins are trying to help Campbell feel as much a part of the team.
"Same thing a couple of years ago happened to Horty and every time that someone goes down, you always want to play for that player," said Paille.
There won't be any Garden water brought to Chicago this time around, though.
"I don't think I will," Campbell smiled to media on Tuesday afternoon. "If I don't have the same success as Nathan, it won't look very good on me."
Campbell may not be bringing extra magic in tow, but his teammates are just simply happy to have him around.
"It's something that no player wants to be a part of when you’re so close and you get injured," said Paille.
"Right now, Soupy, we know he’s done everything he did to help us get to where we’re at and we always want to make sure that it wasn’t for nothing. So, you want to leave it out there and make sure you give it everything."
"Just to be around our team, it's nice to have him back," Coach Julien has said of Campbell being back around the team. "He's part of our family."
"From here on in, he's good to go. Going to be with us the whole way."
Just how far that "whole way" may be is yet to be determined...