Campbells enjoy the Stanley Cup as father and son

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Campbells enjoy the Stanley Cup as father and son

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
VANCOUVER Hockey is a sport about tight-knit families as much as anything else.

The tradition of brothers with NHL bloodlines like the Sutter clan and the Staal boys wearing sweaters all across the league are something of a hockey tradition up there with the Esposito brothers in the 1970s, or Gordie Howe playing with his sons in the WHL.

Hockey dads and coachs sons are so much a part of the hockey fabric that it was natural to see so many Bruins players celebrating with their families -- dads, brothers, sons, daughters, moms and sisters -- following their Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Milan Lucic was surrounded by his entire family, including his ultra-supportive father, Dobro, in the visitors dressing room after the game. Brad Marchand's dad was there, too. But there was one father-and-son combo that managed to escape much notice.

It was fourth line center Gregory Campbell and his well-known father Colin Campbell. Together, along with the rest of the Campbell family, they hanging around in a corner of Rogers Arena snapping pictures, smiling and deriving enjoyment after a huge performance from Campbell and his linemates in Game 7.

Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille capped off the most successful season for a fourth line under Claude Julien in Boston by setting the physical edge during the first period of Game 7. The trio provided the energy that helped eventually overwhelm the beaten-down Canucks. (Thornton added a little intimidation level for good measure when he took on both Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo at once during a scrum in the first period.)

Campbell skated more than 14 minutes in Bostons most important game of the year, and he notched an assist along with three registered hits and three shots to cap off his very first playoff season.

The former Florida Panther, along with the heavy-hitting intensity of Thornton and the speedy fore-check of Paille, helped the Bruins take both Games4 and 7 with their energy.

Its also no coincidence the Bruins were 12-3 during the postseason when the fourth line managed more than eight minutes of ice time in the game a stat Campbell and Co. clearly took pride in.

One of our main jobs was to provide energy. We knew how electric the crowd was in Vancouver, so it was important to get that momentum for our team and play hard," said Campbell. "Claude Julien really showed a lot of confidence in playing us quite a bit out there. You need depth and character to win the Cup. We genuinely liked each other on this team and you cant overlook that. Everybody wants to play for one another rather than just for themselves.

We relied a lot on our depth but it's character that counts, especially when youve had three Game 7 wins in the same playoffs. I now fully have the appreciation for everybody thats won the Stanley Cup because its got to be one of the hardest trophies to win in pro sports.

The normal grimy, edgy competition for the Cup might seem to pale in comparison, however, to the slings, arrows and impropriety accusations thrown at Campbell and his father throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Its something both father and son are unfortunately used to, of course.

It also became a moot point when the elder Campbell announced at the beginning of the Cup Final he was stepping down as the NHL Sheriff in charge of hockey operations and supplemental discipline.

The move will certainly make life a little less stressful for father and son, with no questions of nepotism hanging over their heads. There will be no waiting around for the next hatchet job column by some overexcited, mouth-breathing heckler from another NHL outpost looking for the latest conspiracy theory.

It comes with the territory, Gregory said. Its something that Ive had to deal with, but I never felt sorry for myself. I just called on experiences from living around hockey day in and day out, and being around hockey all the time as a kid. Im not apologizing for Colins job, but its certainly satisfying to do something that you can call your own.

Colin understood the heated nature of the series between the Canucks and the Bruins, and knew there wouldnt be much in the way of boundaries for each side attempting to gain a competitive advantage. Certainly it was difficult to sit on the sideline and watch it all unfold when his sons teammate was bitten minutes into the series opener.

But thats exactly what he did in handing the job over to Mike Murphy.

It was definitely a mean, nasty Final and there were things on either side, Colin said. But youre going to have some of that stuff when two teams are playing for something this important to their livelihoods. There were some incidents in this series that were dealt with, but its nowhere near the 2000 Stanley Cup Final between the Devils and the Stars. I was convinced that somebody was going to die in that series.

Im just happy it was a relatively well-behaved and well-played Game 7 for both sides and you saw two teams out there competing hard in a do-or-die situation. I wouldnt say it was easy or relaxing watching my son play in playoffs that I knew was so important to him, but Im just proud of the way he played. His line got their number called quite a bit in Game 7 and they were able to make themselves a factor out on the ice.

Instead of comments about suspensions or answering questions about the one power play handed out during the first two periods of Game 7, it was instead father Colin and son Gregory who drew from the pure elation of the ultimate father and son hockey moment of raising a Stanley Cup together.

Greg was too young to remember when I was playing, but he was always around the team, the players and the equipment guys growing up as a coachs son, said Colin. Hes watched up close just how much guys sacrifice to try to get their name on the Cup, and you can see that knowledge in the way that he plays. I couldnt be any more proud of him.

After all the arguments, conspiracy theories and blame games associated with the Campbell last name over the last two years, Wednesday night had none of that. It was all about a father and son enjoying their precious first moment with the Cup.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Tuukka Rask went through morning skate Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and proclaimed himself “healthy” to start against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden after sitting out Saturday with a lower body injury.

So, Rask will play his 60th game of the season tonight and the Bruins will hope that a dominating performance will douse some of the brush fire that’s cropped up around the Black and Gold’s goaltending situation. 

After Boston’s No. 1 goaltender coughed up five goals in a rough loss to Tampa and then sat out the must-win against the Islanders on Saturday night, questions about Rask’s big-game reliability are absolutely there after he also sat out last season’s pivotal finale against the Ottawa Senators.

Still, Rask said he hasn’t paid attention to the media scrutiny and is instead looking forward to locking up against fellow Finn Pekka Rinne of the Preds.

“I haven’t listened to the [media scrutiny], but I’m sure they’ve been very nice to me,” said Rask. “I don’t listen. I don’t read it. Doesn’t affect me. You know where you stand, and how good you play and when you don’t play good. That’s all you need. You don’t need to listen to the outside voices because it’s just going to distract you. People have opinions and they can say whatever they want.

“This is what we play for, right? It’s fun. It’s going to come down to the wire again and it’s going to be another battle tonight. I don’t even know how many games I’ve played. I feel good. I think I’ve said all throughout the year there’s going to be ups and downs, and you just try to stay even-keeled. It’s something that you learn not getting too high or too low, and just win as many games as you can.”

The bottom line with Rask is that there are major question marks about his standing as a No. 1 goaltender that he needs to address in these final seven games, media scrutiny or no media scrutiny. A No. 1 goalie worth $7 million per season can hold up with a 60-plus game workload and not fade down the stretch while in need of mental and physical breaks. 

The slender Rask has shown signs of slippage in his performance when the workload is heavy, and coach Bruce Cassidy admitted as much on Tuesday while not guaranteeing that his No. 1 will be able to play in six of the final seven games down the stretch.

“We’re trying to write our own story this year. I know how the last few years have ended, and we’d like a different ending,” said Cassidy. “I think this group should be afforded that right to write their own stories, and we’ll see how it plays out. Obviously last week did not play out well for us and we heard about it, and that’s part of the business.

“Saturday, hopefully we turned a corner, but we won’t know that until we get going forward here. I’m asking [Tuukka] to play well tonight, and I’m asking the players in front of him to play well tonight. The workload for Tuukka has to be monitored, and whether the whole world agrees with it or not, that’s the situation. I think the data backs up that he’s better with ‘X’ amount of rest and that’s just the way it is. It’s an inexact science and we’re trying to do a better job with that. The second half we’ve really tried to monitor it and last week was a bit of an exception. At crunch time things change a little bit, and that’s what we’re trying to balance.”

In an ideal world, a hockey team scratching and clawing for the Stanley Cup playoffs wouldn’t have to so closely monitor whether a goaltender is about to break down because he’s pushing 60 games in a season, especially when he’d enjoyed a five-day bye just a month earlier.

There are also questions about Rask’s reliability after sitting out last weekend, whether it was by his choice, the team’s choice or a mutually agreed upon decision after his lower body discomfort cropped up. A No. 1 goalie is no longer worthy of that lofty mantle when a team can’t rely on big-game performances from him, or even if he'll be available, once the pressure is on in the final weeks of the season.

So, there are plenty of questions to answer for Rask down the stretch here and they may go a long way toward determining his long-range future with an organization that invested heavily in him a few years ago. Those answers begin on Tuesday night against the Predators and it certainly feels like it will be game-to-game with him for final seven contests of the regular season. 
 

Krejci doesn't skate, 'game-time decision' tonight vs. Nashville

Krejci doesn't skate, 'game-time decision' tonight vs. Nashville

BRIGHTON, Mass – It was an optional morning skate for the Bruins at Warrior Ice Arena, but only Torey Krug and David Krejci were missing from the ice ahead tonight's game against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden. 

That’s two skates missed in a row for Krejci, who will be a game-time decision vs. the Preds after spending his morning undergoing treatment for an upper body issue.

If Krejci can’t play then Ryan Spooner would get bumped up to the second line with Drew Stafford and David Pastrnak and the Bruins would shuffle the rest of their forwards while presumably getting Matt Beleskey back into the fold.

“[Krejci] will be a game-time decision,” said Cassidy. “He stayed off the ice to get some treatment. I think he’ll play, but we’ll have to wait until warm-ups and go from there.”

Normally an injured player that doesn’t skate in the morning isn’t likely to play in the game, so let’s put Krejci as a questionable status to suit up after getting dinged up vs. the Islanders. 

Cassidy also confirmed that John-Michael Liles would be subbing in for Colin Miller on the third defensive pairing after having played just two games since the beginning of February. Also, Tuukka Rask was “healthy” and ready to play tonight vs. Nashville.

Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings vs. Nashville based on the past two days of practice:

Marchand-Bergeron-Backes

Stafford-Spooner-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Nash-Hayes

Beleskey-Moore-Acciari

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Liles-K. Miller

 
Rask