BOSTON — The maize and blue of Michigan is still present in his blood, but Steven Kampfer has more Bruins black and gold in his veins these days.
That’s why maybe more than anyone in the Boston or Montreal dressing rooms, the rookie defenseman is a tad torn. Obviously, he wants to stick up for his captain and teammate Zdeno Chara. But Kampfer and Max Pacioretty, the Canadiens player now in the hospital with a fractured vertebrae and concussion as a result of a collision with Chara and an arena stanchion Tuesday night, are former teammates with the Wolverines who to this day still share an agent, Alex Schall.
“You feel for both parties. You feel for Zee, and you feel for Max,” said Kampfer, who’s currently recovering from his own concussion. “You can say you’re torn. I’ve gone through it. I know what it’s like to have an injury like that, so it’s like I told our agent. I’ll be the first one to talk to Max if he wants to talk because I’ve gone through this before. I can definitely give him some pointers along the way of what he’s going to expect and what he’s going to encounter.
“At the same time I support Zee. He’s essentially my mentor and I’m learning a lot of things from him. I believe what he said is what happened.”
Kampfer said he can understand the anger Pacioretty’s feeling and why the Montreal player has accused Chara of intentionally trying to hurt him. He also knows that although Pacioretty wears the hated Habs’ sweater, he’s not a bad person.
“He’s a good guy. … He’s fun to be around and a guy you want to go out on the town with,” said Kampfer.
But Kampfer has also seen the other side of Pacioretty, who jumped Kampfer during the Bruins-Canadiens game Feb. 9. The same spunk that Pacioretty showed in challenging Kampfer to a fight that didn’t materialize that night also came out Jan. 8 when the winger shoved Chara after scoring an overtime goal. In Kampfer’s eyes that Feb. 9 incident hasn’t changed the dynamic between him and Pacioretty.
“I don’t think it ever changed. We both want to play hard, and we both want to play physical. It’s part of the game. If that thing happens where he jumps you, it’s part of the game,” said Kampfer.
If you’re in the game long enough, you’re bound to be in Chara, Pacioretty or Kampfer’s position. How they all handle it going forward will be interesting to watch.