Skip to main content

Campbell ready to use adversity on road to success

by Steve Hunt
FRISCO, Texas -- Jack Campbell speaks about his performance last season with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League in pretty blunt terms.

"I think it couldn't have gone better mentally for me," Campbell said. "I had my first up-and-down start to a year where normally I've been consistent the entire year. Last year I had a couple bad games that I'm not used to having.

In 45 games this past season, campbell was 24-14-4 with a 3.80 goals-against-average. In 18 playoff games, he went 9-6-3 with two shutouts and a 3.74 GAA.

While his first year in the Stars organization has been a good one, the 19-year-old goaltender, taken with the 11th pick of the 2010 Entry Draft, knows he is capable of much more.

"It really challenged me mentally to be tougher and I think that's what I need to get to the next level," Campbell said of the 2010-11 season. "Now that I've experienced that, I feel that physically my game's right where it needs to be. In the playoffs, I think I showed that and in the (2011 World Junior Championship), as well."

Campbell went 5-1 for the United States in helping the team win a bronze medal at the World Juniors. He led the tournament with a 1.70 GAA and .941 save percentage en route to being voted the tournament's best goalie. When he returned from the tournament, he went 12-5-3 in 23 games, which led into a playoff run that saw him backstop Windsor to the league semifinals.

Earlier this month he joined other prospects at the Stars' annual development camp. This was his second time participating, and his experience this time around was markedly different than the one he had in 2010.

"I think last year I was still going through that whole whirlwind stage of getting drafted," he said. "I was just real excited to be there. This year I went in with a purpose. I really prepared for it all summer, worked really hard and put on a lot of weight. I wanted to show the coaches how hard I've been working."

Campbell embraced this year's camp as an opportunity to learn all he could from the coaches running the event.

"I really wanted to make the most of the time while we were all there and learn as much as I could from Mike Valley, the goalie coach," Campbell said. "Whether it was [Stars Development Coordinator] J.J. McQueen or [Player Development Consultant] Gary Roberts, it was a lot of fun to be around those guys, really pay attention and be a student of the game; trying to take in as much as I can."

Specifically, he wanted plenty of face time with Valley. This past season, Kari Lehtonen started 69 games for Dallas and performed well in his first full season with the club. He gave Valley much of the credit for his success. 

To date, Campbell hasn't gotten much one-on-one time with Valley, but he's already starting to see the benefit of the time he has spent with the organization's goalie coach.

"It's pretty amazing," he said. "I've already gotten so much better just from the time I've spent with him, whether it's on the ice and trying to fine-tune my weaknesses or whatnot. Off the ice, he's been a great mentor for me as far as what I need to do to get to the next level mentally. I couldn't ask for a better goalie coach."

Growing up in Port Huron, Mich., Campbell looked up to former Dallas Stars and University of Michigan goaltender Marty Turco. When the Stars drafted him in 2010, Campbell was very excited about the opportunity to play in the same organization as Turco. However, Turco became a free agent not long after Campbell was drafted and signed with Chicago.
While he won't get the chance to learn from Turco, Campbell said now he's learning all he can from Lehtonen.

"It's kind of funny how everything worked out and how Marty (left) after I got drafted," Campbell said. "Kari's really been great to me. I went on the ice with him last year once or twice. He was just trying to help me out as much as he could and show me the way he plays. Every time I watch him, whether it's on the ice or video of him, I just always try to learn from him and get better because he's one of the game's best goalies."

Campbell likely is headed back to Windsor for a second OHL season, and the young goaltender said he's fine with that scenario.

"There's a lot of talk about me going back to Windsor this year and I understand that I need to have the dominant year this year in order to play pro," he said. "I get that. I'm excited about going back to Windsor and having a better year. I'm going to go into camp with the mind set of, I'm just going to do the best I can and see what happens. I'm still pretty young and have a lot of learning to do, so I don't think another year in Windsor would hurt at all. I think it would help a lot. I still have a lot of things to accomplish there."

Wherever he takes the ice, Campbell will have a bigger presence than this past season.

"Last year I had a couple bad games that I'm not used to having. It really challenged me mentally to be tougher and I think that's what I need to get to the next level. Now that I've experienced that, I feel that physically my game's right where it needs to be."
-- Jack Campbell

"I've put on 20 pounds, so I'm up to about 195 now," said the 6-foot-3 Campbell. "I was always in good shape, but I wanted to put on some weight because at the next level I know I need to get a little bit bigger so more pucks will hit me in tight. I've been doing that, trying to get up to 200 right now. I'm really happy with the progress that I've made."

He hopes a bigger build won't be the only difference in his game this season. He also wants to see himself be more patient in goal.

"My biggest weakness is my patience," he said. "I want the puck so bad that I kind of go out and try to get it to where I try to take over the game. As a goalie, you've got to let it come to you.

"I think that's a good strength I have in how I want to take over the game. At the same time, you kind of have to be in control of it, just let the play come to you and slow everything down. That's what I'm really working on right now."

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.