BOSTON – The Bruins are reaping the benefits right now of the player and person Gregory Campbell has become since his teen and pre-teen years.
That development started with the New York Rangers organization.
In the ‘90s, Campbell’s father Colin, now the lead NHL disciplinarian, was an assistant coach and then head coach with the Blueshirts. That meant many hours spent around a who’s who of future Hall-of-Famers, including Mark Messier and Brian Leetch, and even an up-close look at the ’94 Stanley Cup championship run.
“Day in, day out, I was always around the rink,” said Campbell after this morning’s skate at TD Garden, where the Bruins will face New York tonight. “I skated before or after. Any time I had a day off and on the weekends, I was always at the rink. I got to go on a couple trips on the road, fly on the plane and go to the pregame meal. That firsthand experience, when you’re young, it’s invaluable. It’s something I will always remember and to be part of that was pretty special.”
Campbell enjoyed some success against the Rangers in a Panthers uniform prior to coming to Boston. In 18 match-ups he posted 3-3-6 totals and 35 PIM. Although he now wears Messier’s No. 11 in black and gold, Campbell says that’s just a coincidence. It was another great Ranger who had the most influence on him, and it’s pretty obvious by the way Campbell plays the game.
“My favorite player was actually Adam Graves,” explained Campbell.
“He was such an amazing person off the ice. That’s why I liked him. He always had time for me and for everybody off the ice. Obviously he was a great player, but he was a guy that would spend time with me – come out and shoot with me before and after and let me tape his sticks before practice.”
Graves , who now works in the Rangers’ front office, has to be proud of how Campbell has turned out – even if it might mean the center enjoying more success at the Blueshirts’ expense in an Eastern Conference showdown tonight.