Gregory Campbell spent the last month working out with the OHLs Kitchener Rangers, but hopped on a plane back to Boston as quickly as possible Sunday once word arrived that the NHL lockout was over.
As players were all so glad to move on from all of this. Thats the most important thing of all, said Campbell. Being back with my teammates was really fun. Knowing that were going to be playing soon and knowing that the guys are filtering back into Boston, it makes me really, really happy.
The Bruins fourth line center was one of the few Bruins skaters that didnt make it over to Europe at any point over the last four months. So instead he opted to head back to his former junior hockey team and joined Dennis Wideman in working out with Kitchener in structured, high-paced practices. It was clear that benefited Campbell when he hopped back on the Agganis Arena ice with his teammates on Monday morning, and he was feeling ready to get back to work with linemates Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton.
When the season does begin Campbell will be starting a three-year deal worth 4.8 million, and hopes to be able to keep up with the guys that were taking regular shifts in Europe.
Its tough to say. Ive tried hard to stay committed and be prepared. Ive worked hard off the ice and skated five days a week with the Kitchener team back home, said Campbell. Its not pro level, but Ive tried my hardest to address the things I needed to work on.
But its tough to prepare for certain things required for game action. Its going to be an adjustment for everyone.
Campbell, always one of the most thoughtful players on the Bs roster, appeared extremely happy to put the NHL lockout nightmare behind him, but also understood there is work to be done to win back hockey fans. Not so much in Boston where the Black and Gold Faithful are expected to come back in droves for a competitive team, but in other areas of North America where franchises might be in trouble.
Campbells family has been associated with the NHL for a long time, and its clear he personally wants to help clear away the negativity left by the lockout.
Its been a frustrating process. What I can say about this process is that its been very humbling. We also live, eat, breathe and sleep hockey and its been our identity for our entire lives, said Campbell. For us not to be able to play hockey for any reason is humbling; it makes you think about a lot of things. It makes you realize how lucky you are to play and to do what you love for a living.
It would be selfish for us to think we were the only ones affected by this lockout. There are a lot of fans that are passionate about the game, and there are a lot of people that work around the game and work in the arenas -- that are passionate about it as well.
Now its time for all those passionate about the NHL to get back to the business of hockey, and that starts with the rank-and-file players just like Campbell.