The Boston Bruins are known for many things. Hard pressing, defensive minded hockey. Outstanding goaltending. Aggressive net-front presence on the forecheck. Most of all, we’re know for having four of the best lines in the NHL. The Bruins’ fourth line (aka the Merlot Men) have been regarded by most of their opponents as being the best fourth line currently on the ice. Tonight, in a rather wrenching moment, we saw the dedication and tenacity of one those players.
In the middle of the second period, the Bruins were called for their first of two Two Many Men on the Ice penalties. One of the players on that particular series of the penalty kill was the Merlot Men’s center, Gregory Campbell. At 12:04, Campbell dove to block a shot by Evgeni Malkin. That shot hit Campbell just above the right knee. The way that Bruins and Penguins players looked at Campbell after the block indicated that he had let out a loud cry of pain. Multiple social media sources indicated that his leg was broken on that play.
In most other sports, the athlete would have gone down and the trainers and the doctors would have come out on to the ice. What did Campbell do? Take a second or two to gather himself, get back up on that broken leg and continued to do the best he possibly could. With one glove still on the ice, he still attempted to stay in the play. He was even able to help contribute by attempting to tip away another pass to Malkin. With the Bruins still down a man on the penalty kill, Campbell had no choice but to stay on the ice for nearly a minute until the Bruins were able to clear the puck.
Somehow, Campbell found enough strength left to get off the ice and down the corridor under his own power. He left the ice to a standing ovation, and did not return. Campbell was gone, but the fans let him know he wasn’t forgotten. The sold out TD Garden crowd chanted his name. We’re used to hear the “Loooooch!” and the “Tuuuuukkkk” from the fans. The “Campbell” chant had a ‘Rudy-esque’ feel to it. Campbell has always been a key player for the Bruins. Tonight, he really got to know how we feel about him.
His fellow Bruins agreed. “They know their hockey. But you don’t have to know hockey too well to know how gutsy that was,” said Bruins blueliner Andrew Ference on Campbell’s block. “But, I think this is obviously a city that appreciates that kind of effort. It’s not the first time they’ve seen effort from guys on that line and what they do and what they bring to this team. So like I said, it’s appreciated by anybody who sees that.”
“Not like anybody question what kind of guts he had,” continued Ference. “But it’s pretty neat to see a guy just back up how tough everybody knows he is. I mean, that’s the epitome of what it takes to be at this point in the playoffs. He really puts the extra effort in to trying to stop a really good power play and unfortunately, has trouble there. But that whole line, I think, has garnered respect from our dressing room and the fans for what they’ve always done for us. And that’s just another thing to kind of put on the list of why they’re so important for us.”
“The fact that he took that shot and he couldn’t even move and he was still trying to play and get in the lane. He did a great job and we really wanted to play for him and it just shows his character. He’s always battling. He’s always doing whatever he has to do, and he’s been huge for us this playoffs so far.” said Brad Marchand of Campbell after the game.
It’s these moments that remind me why I love hockey. For the most part, hockey players aren’t the self-absorbed millionaires that run rampant in other sports. On average, far fewer hockey players end up plastered over the papers and TV with their most recent drunk and/or stupid escapade. They are hard working athletes who go far beyond what players in other sports would. We at Causeway Crowd hope for Campbell’s swift and total recovery.