BOSTON -- As the son of former New York Rangers coach Colin Campbell, facing that franchise in the Eastern Conference Semifinals brings back memories for Boston Bruins center Gregory Campbell.
"I don't know if I'd call it nostalgia, but I spent a lot of time in New York. It was eight years of my life and my family was there, my sisters graduated high school there, and it was an area that we called home," Campbell said Friday, less than 24 hours removed from the Bruins' 3-2, Game 1 overtime win.
"I've moved around a lot in my life, and New York is a good place to grow up, and I got to see the Rangers win the Stanley Cup in '94. So amazingly enough there are still some people there that were there when my dad was there. So, of course, there will always be a soft spot for me for that team and that city. It's a city much like Boston, they're very passionate as you know, and it's a good place to play hockey."
Campbell was 10 years old when the Rangers won their last Cup. His dad was an assistant coach on that squad and later was promoted. The younger Campbell spent many days skating with the likes of Mark Messier, Brian Leetch and Adam Graves.
Campbell's playing career has blossomed in Boston as the team's fourth-line center and a vital piece of a perennially successful penalty kill. In the Game 1 win, Campbell logged 14:08 of ice time, was credited with five hits, and went 8-for-14 on faceoffs. The Bruins penalty kill shut out the Rangers on three power plays.
The line of Campbell centering Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille has been a staple of the Bruins lineup for three seasons. And it gives Bruins coach Claude Julien a luxury not every team has.
"My fourth line can play against a first line at times during the game and I have no issues with that because that's how much I trust them," Julien said.
Campbell said only a few die-hard fans probably know his connections to the Rangers, and that over his lengthy NHL career he hasn't heard too much from them. When he takes the ice at Madison Square Garden next week for Games 3 and 4 of this series, he'll just be the enemy. But he'll be an enemy living out a specific childhood dream.
"I love playing in that building," Campbell said. "When you go into it now, it's a completely different arena. But I love the energy in that arena, I love the crowd and the feeling I get when I go in there. I've always loved it since I started in the NHL. So it's not hard for me to play there more so than I get excited to play there."