Life is hockey. Or, hockey is life. The sentiment is clearer for some more than others, including the Chicago Blackhawks
' Brian Campbell
and Cristobal Huet
It seems that newbies Campbell and Huet have one-track hockey minds. Campbell insists he isn't very interesting outside of the game in which he has thrived during his All-Star career. The 29-year-old veteran, who was the most sought-after NHL defenseman in free agency, politely smiles and says that he's "pretty boring."
Huet, 33, also coveted in the free-agency market after lifting the Washington Capitals
to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, says he doesn't have much excitement outside the rink, but does enjoy a game of ping-pong every now and again.
No, coach Denis Savard
doesn't have to worry about these two breaking curfew!
Both Campbell and Huet are affably accommodating. In their defense, they both have been uprooted -- Campbell from Buffalo to San Jose and now Chicago, and Huet from Montreal to Washington and finally the Windy City, both in just two seasons' time.
In between the shuffle, Campbell has been showing his visiting father his Gold Coast neighborhood, while Huet has been settling into his new home with wife Corrine and son Ewan. Both have been available for fan-friendly events, including a training-camp festival at the United Center, and a couple of Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox games while pushing through camp on a crowded agenda of round-robin scrimmages with unfamiliar faces.
Perhaps they won't be tabloid fodder, but Chicago Blackhawks
fans should be thankful that Campbell and Huet have hockey to fall back on. I spent some time talking with Campbell and Huet about their new city.
Five Minutes with Brian Campbell
NHL.com --How has Chicago treated you thus far? Have you settled in yet?
I don't know where I live. I forget the name of my neighborhood. I guess more by the Gold Coast over there. The shopping down on the Rush and Oak area. My dad's been down for a week so we've kept busy.
NHL.com -- Have you been able to enjoy the city yet?
A little bit, it's still early yet. I've enjoyed some baseball games and have walked around to see the sights and trying to learn more about the city as well. There are definitely a lot of places to go and eat and I have been enjoying the summertime here.
NHL.com -- Are any of your teammates giving you any tips?
I haven't done much of any socializing, but once we get going, I won't hang with the same guys all the time because I'm going to try to get to know everybody more and more.
NHL.com -- Tell me about your surfing trip last year.
I've only done it one time, only for a week in Australia. It was fun and enjoyable. It's always fun to try a different sport so it was definitely a tough sport to try.
NHL.com -- What kind of board did you use -- traditional fiberglass board or the lighter, more buoyant epoxy board?
A big board! I was only doing it for a week!
NHL.com -- I know you have to do something else, Brian!
I'm not very exciting, I apologize. I do a little boating in the offseason. I have a wake-surf boat and we water ski and wake surf. I don't wake board because I'd kill myself, but I just try to surf a little bit and get better at that – just a little wake-surfing.
Five Minutes with Cristobal Huet
NHL.com -- I hear you are pretty good at ping-pong.
I am not an expert. I don't know what to say, but I can play.
NHL.com -- What got you interested in the game?
When I was young, we had a ping-pong table and my brother and I were always playing. In Los Angeles (Kings) we had a ping-pong table in the dressing room and in Washington too. I just love playing.
NHL.com -- What about Chicago – is there a table somewhere around here?
No. I should ask them if I can get a table here, I guess (laughs).
Also, my late grandfather, Pierre, was a good player, like in a club and everything. He competed in tournaments and was playing up until age 80 or something like that. He always had nice rackets with spins (strokes) and everything.
NHL.com --Growing up did you have serious matches against your brother?
No, me and my brother always played for fun. We'd play funny games -- one defense, one offense, or two-handed. Games weren't even games, just played for hours.
NHL.com -- Do you think ping-pong helps with your hockey game in any way? Does it help your reflexes and concentration?
I think all the rackets games are good for the timing like squash or tennis because of their lateral movements, and your reaction, obviously. I'm not doing that very much, but I do think it's very good preparation for hockey during the summer to get ready.