WILMINGTON, MA - It had been roughly four months since we had seen Gregory Campbell on the ice, skating with his teammates. When Thursday's Captain's Practice rolled around, there was Campbell, heading out of the B's locker room and hitting the ice at Ristuccia Arena, all smiles, just a step in front of Jarome Iginla.
It was a welcome sight for those in attendance, and his teammates felt the same.
"Seeing him out there today, he's finally smiling, so it's nice to see him and just have him in the room being himself and being part of the team and doing everything with us," said defenseman Johnny Boychuk, also taking part in the informal skates.
"It's nice to see and just great to have him back on the ice."
Campbell has been on a recovery path this summer since suffering a broken right leg on June 5, during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Following his surgery to repair the break on June 10, Campbell was optimistic.
"I'm fully expecting to be 100% at camp," he had said, with a cast on his leg and crutches nearby. "If you look at six to eight weeks, it puts me in mid July to late July, early August [when] I'll be back on my feet."
"Soupy" is certainly back on his feet, and that optimism has translated to the ice, with just under a week left until Training Camp officially kicks off on Wednesday, September 11.
Captain's Practice Notes
Campbell was one of the latest additions to the Captain's Practices at Ristuccia Arena, in addition to Jordan Caron, who no doubt has his eye on making the big club out of camp.
Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Jarome Iginla, Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton, Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton also participated in the skate, along with P-Bruins and recent additions to the organization Niklas Svedberg, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser, Carter Camper, Bobby Robins, Nick Johnson, Rob Flick and David Warsofsky.
Much of the talk heading into camp has been focused on the "young competition" that is expected to take place both for Boston's forward corps and the back end. (I can already sense that "healthy competition" will be the buzz word from players and media alike.)
Johnny Boychuk remembers what that experience was like. It's not too long ago, that he was trying to crack the B's roster.
"It does [take time] and when you get that chance, you have to take it, and do as well as you can," said the blueliner. "Because there's always somebody new coming up, trying to take your spot. It's always a competition and everyone pushes each other. It's healthy."
"We've got a lot of good, young players and it's going to be good competition for guys and everybody's just excited."
"There are some spots they could be fighting for, and will just make for better skates and better competition."
One of the top shutdown defenseman (should we still call him such, when he notched five more goals during the postseason than he did during 44 regular season games?), Boychuk knows that heading into camp, that competition for the lineup will only help fuel the veterans as well.
"I've played with [Andrew Ference] for the last couple years so it's going to be different playing with somebody else, besides Zee, but we've got these three young guys that are more than capable of stepping up and taking those minutes," said Boychuk.
"They're good players and it's going to be good competition for them, and it's just going to make everybody better."