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BOSTON (CBS) — With less than a month before training camp, Bruins center Gregory Campbell knows he set the bar for tolerance pretty high last June.
“I guess the only time – knock on wood, whatever – I won’t be able to not skate off is if I’m unconscious,” Campbell recently joked during an interview for a feature on NHL.com.
Campbell was referring, of course, to his famous minute on the ice in the aftermath of having his leg broken by an Evgeni Malkin slap shot during a penalty kill in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals. After blocking Malkin’s shot, Campbell got to his feet and didn’t leave the sheet until the Bruins had killed the penalty and cleared the puck.
Even a couple of months removed, Campbell’s actions stand as an example of what it takes to be a member of the Bruins. Although the fourth-line forward’s actions were slightly overshadowed by star center Patrice Bergeron’s ability to continue to play through severe injuries, the efforts of both Bruins pivots epitomize why the Bruins have become one of the NHL’s model franchises. Whether you’re on the top line making $6 million per season or on the fourth line cashing checks for a little more than $1 million, you’re expected to do whatever it takes to win.
A team with the grit to battle injuries only goes so far, however, without production. Campbell, who’s still awaiting clearance to resume skating after surgery to repair his foot in June, has been able to provide the Bruins 58 points the past three seasons in addition to his hard-nosed and smart play, mostly skating between Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton.
There’s a chance that line will be broken up this season. Or it could remain one of the cornerstones of coach Claude Julien’s lineup. No matter who he’s skating with this season, Campbell wants to get back to being one of the Bruins’ most reliable players and add to the reasons he should be well known for more than just playing on a broken leg.
“There’s countless reasons that I look forward to coming back to Boston, but mainly because I know we’re going to have a good team and I know that we’re going to be able to compete. So for me personally, as long as I’m helping the team obtain that goal of winning, that’s satisfaction enough for me,” he said. “Personal stats and whatever, that’s not really part of my game. But it’s more being a guy that can be relied upon and also being a good line. I guess we’re almost a staple now going into every season our line. So we as a line have to be prepared and have to be able to be counted on.”
The Bruins know they can always count on Campbell, regardless of situation or risk to his health.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.