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.