WILMINGTON, Mass. – The last couple seasons, Colin Campbell’s name around the Bruins has been associated with as much venom as Alex Rodriguez or Bucky Dent around the Red Sox.
This season, Bruins fans are going to have to separate their disgust with the NHL Director of Hockey Operations, who has been in charge of every non-satisfactory suspension ruling that has affected the club the last two years, and their desire for their new center Gregory Campbell to contribute to team’s success.
Campbell was the less-heralded of the two players, after Nathan Horton, Boston acquired over the summer from the Florida Panthers in the Dennis Wideman trade. But on a team that historically rolls four lines consistently, Campbell will be another important piece of Boston’s potential championship puzzle.
The best news for some conspiracy theorists and outright haters of Campbell’s decision-making might be that the elder Campbell recuses himself from any disciplinary action that involves his son’s team.
The second-best news is that the 26-year-old stays out of his father’s business and focuses 100 percent on his own task at hand.
“For us, we separate that. He’s doing his job, I’m doing mine and I don’t look at him as a title,” said the younger Campbell after a captains’ practice at Ristuccia Arena today. “It is a tough job for him, I can say that. It’s a no-win job and decisions are made. He has to deal with them and deal with the positive and negative statements made by people. In the past, he’s never dealt with the teams I’ve been on, and I’m assuming that’s going to be the way it is now. I don’t call him up and talk about who got suspended.”
Campbell admits that it can be difficult to block it out when his father is in the news or teammates are talking about a ruling. But he does his best to stay out of all matters dealing with his father’s line of work.
“It’s something I’ve had hanging over my head my whole career,” said Campbell. “For me, I want to make a name for myself. I’ve never asked for any favors and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten any favors. I’ve worked hard to get where I’ve gotten. I know it’s a neat story, so it doesn’t bother me that I get asked those questions. But for me, it’s a different relationship.”
Many are projecting Campbell as the Bruins’ fourth line center, probably on a line between Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton. While that might turn out to be the perfect spot for him and the Bruins, Campbell isn’t going into camp with any preordained ideas about the roster. He knows he has to battle for a job, and believes he could even earn a spot that’ll bring him more playing time and the team more production.
A season of battling an “upper-body” injury, a head injury and then a season-ending bruised foot (in March) is now behind Campbell, who says he’s back 100 percent healthy.For a grinder like Campbell, obviously health is the most important thing — and maybe it’s the most difficult to maintain. A 13-goal scorer two seasons ago, Campbell doesn’t project to produce much more than that with his stick, but he’ll be expecting to be one of Boston’s fiercest forecheckers and a reliable faceoff winner.
Like fellow former Panther Horton, Campbell has been reinvigorated by his arrival in a premier hockey town.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “In Florida, we were with a bunch of teams that were fighting for that last playoff spot every year. And to come in here, and to have those high expectations, I’m looking forward to playing in the playoffs and having every game matter. And it’s been a while since I’ve been in a winning environment and I’m looking forward to that.”
If things go according to plan, after two seasons spent hating the Campbell family in the Hub, it’ll be time to show that clan some love.