BOSTON – Steve Kampfer can now claim an achievement that even Zdeno Chara can’t touch.
The rookie defenseman is undefeated as captain of the Boston Bruins.
Of course, all kidding aside, Kampfer just wore the ‘C’ for the two rookie games that Boston won over the New York Islanders – 5-2 Wednesday and 2-1 in overtime tonight – at TD Garden. But nonetheless, the seeds of a future captain of the NHL club might’ve been planted in the days leading up to the games and during the two victories.
“It’s pretty special to get to wear the ‘C.’ It’s humbling to be seen as a leader, especially in the Bruins organization and not being here so long,” said Kampfer after win tonight. “I just tried to step in and be a leader, on and off the ice. That’s all I try to do every day is just try to be the best I can.”
Kampfer, who’ll turn 22 this month, is new to the pro game and to the Bruins’ organization, as he was just acquired last March in a minor trade with Anaheim. He got into six games with the Providence (AHL) farm club before the season ended and then got better acquainted with his future teammates at July’s development camp. It didn’t take long for him to emerge as a take-charge guy once rookie camp opened earlier this week.
“I was wondering who I should make the captain tonight, and I think he’s kind of been the kid that stepped up and [done] the little things in practice that I’ve noticed he’s doing – whether it’s going first in all the drills or kind of giving the guys a kick in the butt to say ‘get over there,’” Providence coach Rob Murray explained after the Bruins’ first rookie-game win. “He’s vocal. I think he’s got that air of confidence in him and he plays like it.”
Kampfer continued to build confidence and get comfortable on the ice, showing his knack for moving the puck out of his own end and keeping attacking puck-carriers wide of the goal mouth. After four years at the University of Michigan, the 5-foot-10, 188-pound backliner possesses a lot of polish, which he hopes to continue to show when main camp opens Saturday.
“I think it sets you up for camp. You’ve played two games and you’re starting to play well,” he said. “You’re trying to compete for a job and now we’ve got two games under our belts going into camp. It should help us going forward.
“I feel comfortable. I’ve skated here for the past week and a half, skating with the older guys and then these two games. I feel like my game is starting to take off right where it ended last year.”
Kampfer racked up 3-23-26 totals in 45 games for the Wolverines and then made an impression at Providence with 1-2-3 totals in six AHL games. It always helps to have the game that can back up the words when you’re trying to be a leader. Kampfer seems to have the right combination and he relishes the dual role, despite having never worn a letter prior to the two rookie games.
“I think that once you step into one of these things, someone’s got to step up and be a leader. And I think [Jamie Arniel], [Lane MacDermid] and I kind of stepped up a bit and we wanted to make practices go as quick as possible, just make everything perfect,” said Kampfer. “I think just getting on some guys’ cases and stepping in and showing what they’re supposed to do helped out, made practices go quicker and made it go a lot sharper.”
That sharpness paid off, as Boston outplayed the Islanders for the better part of five of the six periods of game action in front of more than 25,000 people combined at the Garden. The Boston fans got a glimpse of the future, and Kampfer got a chance to establish the track he wants to be on as he climbs the organizational ladder as a player and a leader.