BOSTON - When Steven Kampfer first arrived here out of the University of Michigan nine years ago, he admits that he had some maturing to do - both on and off the ice.
"At 22 years old, I was a cocky kid and thought I was the best," said Kampfer, who helped the Wolverines to NCAA tournament appearances in all four of his seasons and twice advanced to the Frozen Four.
Acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in early 2010, Kampfer - a fourth-round selection in the 2007 NHL Draft - believed he was destined for greatness. But during his brief first tenure with the Bruins from 2010-12, Boston's blue line was tough to crack as the Black & Gold aimed for its first Stanley Cup in 39 years.
As such, the Bruins' roster was not the greatest fit for a young defenseman trying to find his way in the National Hockey League.
Kampfer, who was a member of the Black Aces during the B's run to the Final in 2011, had to watch from the sidelines as they hoisted the Stanley Cup in Vancouver. It was, no doubt, a learning experience in knowing - and accepting - your role, something that took time for the Michigan native to fully grasp as he made his way through stops with Minnesota, Florida, and the New York Rangers.
"I think you learn as time goes on," said Kampfer. "You learn how the game is…you learn from situations you have been in, and I think learning the last couple years more about myself and more about how the game is played and the role you need to play on a team to be the best player you can be."
Video: Kampfer discusses decision to resign with Bruins
So when Kampfer was re-acquired by the Bruins last September - along with fourth- and seventh-round picks - in exchange for Adam McQuaid, he was far more prepared to take on the role of a depth defenseman. Kampfer played in just 35 games for Boston in 2018-19 (notching three goals and three assists), but was an important piece to a Bruins' defense corps that suffered a plethora of injuries throughout the season.
And for that reason, Kampfer and the Bruins agreed to a two-year contract, $1.6 million ($800,000 annual cap hit) on Tuesday, keeping the 30-year-old in Black & Gold through the 2020-21 season.
"It's been kind of up and down. I loved it the first time I was here. I was traded away and somehow got a way back," said Kampfer, who also stepped in for a game each against Toronto, Carolina, and St. Louis during the postseason, scoring the opening goal in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Hurricanes.
"It's one of those situations you kind of knew what [was] expected of [you] and I have always had a great relationship with Don [Sweeney]. We have always been very open and honest with each other, so it was easy to come back here for another couple of years and grow and build as an organization and a team.
"It's an honor and privilege to wear the Spoked-B. I'm really excited to be here and get this journey started again."
Kampfer said that his decision to remain with Boston did not hinge on being guaranteed a more expansive role next season. Like every year, the blue liner explained, he'll come into training camp with the goal of earning more playing time.
"I have had open and honest conversations with the coaches and the staff," said Kampfer. "It's show up and compete for a job come September. Whatever they ask from me we go from there. If it's doing the same thing as this year then I understand that. I would like to play, but you have to earn that and you have to play - and you are here to support the team and be the best team guy and person you can be.
"I think every year you need to go in with a mindset that you have to be ready to go from Day 1 and they are going to put the best six defensemen on the ice and you have to work your way into it."
Video: Development Camp begins; Kampfer signs deal
With just a few more days until the opening of free agency, Kampfer could have waited until July 1 and fielded offers from other teams. But his comfort level here in Boston, coupled with a new addition to his family, made the decision to remain in the Spoked-B an easy one.
"We were very comfortable with Boston," said Kampfer, who along with wife Tara welcomed the couple's first child, Theodore, last Thursday. "I started my career here and it's one of those things…I like the guys in the locker room, we have a great group of guys; it's a great organization, top talent.
"The Jacobs, Cam [Neely], Don, the coaching staff, we all have really good relationships, so it's something to be familiar with and go to battle with the same guys year after year.
"It's bringing the same work ethic, same energy, enthusiasm to the rink every day and making sure we keep growing and get that one more win."
NOTE: The Bruins announced that they've extended qualifying offers to RFAs Brandon Carlo, Peter Cehlarik, Danton Heinen, Ryan Fitzgerald, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Charlie McAvoy. Gemel Smith was the lone player not to receive an offer, making him a UFA.