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Campbell still trying to inspire in new role as observer

by Matt Kalman /

BOSTON -- Even if Gregory Campbell truly is the Boston Bruins' 2013 version of Nathan Horton, he doesn't plan to follow Horton's complete game plan from the 2011 run to the Stanley Cup championship.

Horton, who was knocked out of the Stanley Cup Final that season by an open-ice hit in Game 3, famously brought a bottle of water from TD Garden to Rogers Arena in Vancouver and sprinkled the water on the ice prior to the Bruins' win in Game 7.

"I don't think I will," Campbell said Tuesday when asked if he'd repeat Horton's actions in Chicago. "If I don't have the same success as Nathan, it won't look very good on me."

It'd be difficult to ruin Campbell's reputation, which is now glorious and world-known, after he gutted out more than 45 seconds of penalty-kill time on a broken leg after he blocked a shot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. On the morning after the Bruins took a 2-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, Campbell spoke to the media for the first time since his injury June 5 and the ensuing surgery last Monday.

Campbell said he feels good and has been told there's a soft timeframe of six to eight weeks for his recovery. He expects to be ready for training camp, even if he'll be limited at the outset of the 2013-14 campaign.

In the immediate aftermath of Evgeni Malkin's slap shot knocking Campbell from the Bruins' lineup, and even in the two weeks since the play, Campbell has become much more famous. Players around the league reacted to the play on Twitter and via other mediums. Athletes in other sports also expressed their appreciation of the effort. Venerable baseball writer Peter Gammons even reported that on the day of the Major League Baseball draft, the New York Yankees had a picture of Campbell playing on one leg as an example of the type of character the team was looking for in its potential draft picks.

It's all been a lot more notoriety than a fourth-line center typically receives.

"I've seen it a few times, just watching the games. Naturally, I watched the replay. There's been an overwhelming amount of support for me," Campbell said. "It's humbling, to be honest with you. The way I look at it, it might sound naïve of me, but I was just trying to do whatever I could to kill the penalty, help out. At that point I really wasn't thinking much.

"There's a lot of players right now that are playing not 100 percent, and there's a lot of guys that play through pain. I don't see myself any different than anybody else in this League. There's a lot of tough guys in this League. A lot of players are willing to do whatever they can to win. At this point you see that more often, guys doing whatever they can to win. I'm no different than anyone else on these two teams in the playoffs. I was just trying to finish the play and do my job."

Anyone who watched Campbell's blocked shot live, or has seen it since, had to wonder what was going through the 29-year-old's mind. Most players would've stayed down on the ice or headed for the bench. Campbell says he's been asked about his frame of mind several times since that night.

"You know, I can't say with 100 percent certainty that I knew it was broken, but I felt like it was a different feeling. I blocked a few shots before. This just seemed different," Campbell said. "Then once I was able to get back to my feet, I was not positive, but fairly sure that there was something wrong. I don't have X-ray vision, so I didn't know at the time that it was broken for sure. Like I said, it was a different feeling.

"The pain aspect, yeah, I mean, it hurt a little bit. It was sore. But your adrenaline's going pretty good at that point. You're stuck on the ice with a couple of the best players in the world. You really don't have much time to think about anything else but trying to help out and kill a penalty."

Through 15 games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Campbell totaled seven points (three goals) and posted a plus-7 rating. For several seasons he's been both the anchor of Boston's energy line and a key component of the Bruins' successful penalty kill.

It was feared the Bruins would miss Campbell's presence, and coach Claude Julien has had to juggle his lines several times in an effort to make up for Campbell's absence. But the Bruins won that game against the Penguins and three of four since to go into Game 4 of the Cup Final on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS) with a series lead.

"The pain aspect, yeah, I mean, it hurt a little bit. It was sore. But your adrenaline's going pretty good at that point. You're stuck on the ice with a couple of the best players in the world. You really don't have much time to think about anything else but trying to help out and kill a penalty."
-- Bruins forward Gregory Campbell

"The emotional part of it, I mean, we're in the Stanley Cup Finals now. I've been a fan of the game for as long as I can remember and I've watched probably every Stanley Cup Final there is," said Campbell, whose father Colin also played in the NHL. "It's obviously tough not to play. But having said that, I'm extremely proud of my teammates and fortunate to be here, fortunate to have been part of the run that I was on. Now I'm cheering them on pretty loudly."

Campbell and Horton have been teammates for almost a decade. So they've become close over the years. Now Campbell has a firsthand view of what Horton went through in 2011.

"It's a huge test of your character to have to sit on the sidelines," Campbell said. "It's actually probably harder to watch than it is to play just because you have no control over anything. There's a lot of work that goes into getting to this point from everybody. It takes really everybody to get to the Stanley Cup Finals. Along the way you're needed at some point. I tried to do the best I could when I had the opportunity. Now I'll try to kind of replicate what Nathan did, support the team, be there, act like I'm still playing even though I'm not, just try to support them however I can."

The Bruins are halfway to a second championship in three years. With Campbell's added support, they might just get those last two wins.

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