Gregory Campbell might be joining up with Bruins alternate captain Andrew Ference in the Czech Republic to sharpen up his hockey skills while the NHL lockout enters a critical stage.
The fourth line center has been skating in Boston with a small group of Bruins skaters and Boston NHL locals over the last few months while waiting for a labor agreement to be worked out. But Campbell remained very non-committal about playing in Europe until recently, and that might be something worth noting.
He told the Boston Globe that hes mulling a chance to join the HC Mountfield Ceske Budejovice team thats employed Ference since early October, and could join a second wave of NHL players that have been headed to Europe over the last week. Some are taking the mass exodus of players to Europe as a troubling sign, but perhaps this is the most encouraging harbinger yet that the NHL players believe an abridged training camp could be only a few weeks away. The games in Europe could allow players like Campbell to sharpen things up before the NHL regular season could begin on Dec. 1.
Ference went to Europe early because hes entering the walk year of his contract in Boston, and felt he needed to be in the best possible condition when the puck is finally dropped in North America.
Campbell has spent his free time in the Boston area skating five days a week, taking ride-a-longs with the Boston Police in a profession that might have been a reality had he not made it in pro hockey and biding his time like every other NHL follower. When the season does finally get going, however, Campbell will be starting the first season of a three-year, 4.8 million contract signed this summer.
Both of Campbells fourth line mates, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille, continue to skate in the Boston area as well, but perhaps the recent European signings of Campbell and Chris Kelly could portend more to come. Campbell would be the 11th Bruins player to sign in Europe, tops among any of the 30 NHL teams.