Boston, MA – When Gregory Campbell showed us around his hometown of Tillsonburg this summer, the center took much pride in the far-reaching countryside where he grew up.
Four months from then, now back in the city of Boston, near a swarm of reporters and news cameras at Agganis Arena, Campbell spoke with the same sense of pride for his second home. Following a spirited informal skate with seven of his Black & Gold teammates, he admitted the past four months were harder than he expected, especially with spending much of that time around the Garden.
“I miss playing in front of the Boston fans,” he said. “I love being in Boston. The reason I re-signed here is because I love it so much.
“I’ve been off and on in Boston and back home the last four months. And driving by the Garden, you kind of get that pit in your stomach, you know, when it’s sitting there empty and it’s usually filled with Bruins fans.
Back in June, Campbell signed a three-year deal to remain amongst the Boston faithful – and he was not alone, with teammates Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic, Dan Paile, Brad Marchand Tyler Seguin and Tuukka Rask all receiving contracts of their own by summer’s end.
An affinity for Boston has always remained consistent throughout this core group, along with a genuine gratitude for the teammates sitting next to them in the locker room.
When asked what he has missed most the past few months, Marchand was quick to answer.
“To be honest, I think it was being in the room with the guys,” he said following the informal practice at BU.
“There’s a bond in there, and when you’re away from the rink, you really realize how close you are with your teammates. It’s just really fun being around the guys every day, and being in the room and on the road with them.”
Like a family member reuniting with his brothers, Seguin echoed his linemates’ words.
“I missed the guys. Obviously you keep in touch with everyone over time, but you’re with these guys almost every day of your life, for 300 days out of the year. It's been a while, so it's nice catching up.”
“A lot of us played overseas, and we stayed in touch, but obviously we didn’t see each other that much,” added Rask. “It’s going to be a fun atmosphere in the locker room for sure.”
Not only have the B’s missed their comrades, but the fan support around Boston as well.
“I was thinking about it last night - what it’s going to be like to step back in front of the fans again, and play in front of them,” said the forward, surrounded by media in front of a BU Terriers backdrop.
“It’s going to be a blast, and I can’t wait to hear the cheers of our crowd again, and hear that goal horn go off, and the Garden go crazy.
"It’s going to be a lot of fun to get back in front of our crowd, and see how excited they are.”
And Lucic stressed the importance of fans’ energy to feed their own, an energy that has propelled hockey back to the epicenter in Boston thanks to the B’s 2011 Stanley Cup, when millions lined Causeway Street with a renewed fervor.
“As we know and especially us as players, we appreciate the fan support we have here in Boston.”
“They’re one of the best in the world when it comes to hockey and we thrive off their support, we thrive off their energy. They were huge for us through our Cup run in 2011, so I hope to see them all back.
“Hopefully, everyone can come back and support us the way they have in the past.”