Bruins

Campbells enjoy the Stanley Cup as father and son

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Campbells enjoy the Stanley Cup as father and son

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
VANCOUVER Hockey is a sport about tight-knit families as much as anything else.

The tradition of brothers with NHL bloodlines like the Sutter clan and the Staal boys wearing sweaters all across the league are something of a hockey tradition up there with the Esposito brothers in the 1970s, or Gordie Howe playing with his sons in the WHL.

Hockey dads and coachs sons are so much a part of the hockey fabric that it was natural to see so many Bruins players celebrating with their families -- dads, brothers, sons, daughters, moms and sisters -- following their Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

Milan Lucic was surrounded by his entire family, including his ultra-supportive father, Dobro, in the visitors dressing room after the game. Brad Marchand's dad was there, too. But there was one father-and-son combo that managed to escape much notice.

It was fourth line center Gregory Campbell and his well-known father Colin Campbell. Together, along with the rest of the Campbell family, they hanging around in a corner of Rogers Arena snapping pictures, smiling and deriving enjoyment after a huge performance from Campbell and his linemates in Game 7.

Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille capped off the most successful season for a fourth line under Claude Julien in Boston by setting the physical edge during the first period of Game 7. The trio provided the energy that helped eventually overwhelm the beaten-down Canucks. (Thornton added a little intimidation level for good measure when he took on both Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo at once during a scrum in the first period.)

Campbell skated more than 14 minutes in Bostons most important game of the year, and he notched an assist along with three registered hits and three shots to cap off his very first playoff season.

The former Florida Panther, along with the heavy-hitting intensity of Thornton and the speedy fore-check of Paille, helped the Bruins take both Games4 and 7 with their energy.

Its also no coincidence the Bruins were 12-3 during the postseason when the fourth line managed more than eight minutes of ice time in the game a stat Campbell and Co. clearly took pride in.

One of our main jobs was to provide energy. We knew how electric the crowd was in Vancouver, so it was important to get that momentum for our team and play hard," said Campbell. "Claude Julien really showed a lot of confidence in playing us quite a bit out there. You need depth and character to win the Cup. We genuinely liked each other on this team and you cant overlook that. Everybody wants to play for one another rather than just for themselves.

We relied a lot on our depth but it's character that counts, especially when youve had three Game 7 wins in the same playoffs. I now fully have the appreciation for everybody thats won the Stanley Cup because its got to be one of the hardest trophies to win in pro sports.

The normal grimy, edgy competition for the Cup might seem to pale in comparison, however, to the slings, arrows and impropriety accusations thrown at Campbell and his father throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Its something both father and son are unfortunately used to, of course.

It also became a moot point when the elder Campbell announced at the beginning of the Cup Final he was stepping down as the NHL Sheriff in charge of hockey operations and supplemental discipline.

The move will certainly make life a little less stressful for father and son, with no questions of nepotism hanging over their heads. There will be no waiting around for the next hatchet job column by some overexcited, mouth-breathing heckler from another NHL outpost looking for the latest conspiracy theory.

It comes with the territory, Gregory said. Its something that Ive had to deal with, but I never felt sorry for myself. I just called on experiences from living around hockey day in and day out, and being around hockey all the time as a kid. Im not apologizing for Colins job, but its certainly satisfying to do something that you can call your own.

Colin understood the heated nature of the series between the Canucks and the Bruins, and knew there wouldnt be much in the way of boundaries for each side attempting to gain a competitive advantage. Certainly it was difficult to sit on the sideline and watch it all unfold when his sons teammate was bitten minutes into the series opener.

But thats exactly what he did in handing the job over to Mike Murphy.

It was definitely a mean, nasty Final and there were things on either side, Colin said. But youre going to have some of that stuff when two teams are playing for something this important to their livelihoods. There were some incidents in this series that were dealt with, but its nowhere near the 2000 Stanley Cup Final between the Devils and the Stars. I was convinced that somebody was going to die in that series.

Im just happy it was a relatively well-behaved and well-played Game 7 for both sides and you saw two teams out there competing hard in a do-or-die situation. I wouldnt say it was easy or relaxing watching my son play in playoffs that I knew was so important to him, but Im just proud of the way he played. His line got their number called quite a bit in Game 7 and they were able to make themselves a factor out on the ice.

Instead of comments about suspensions or answering questions about the one power play handed out during the first two periods of Game 7, it was instead father Colin and son Gregory who drew from the pure elation of the ultimate father and son hockey moment of raising a Stanley Cup together.

Greg was too young to remember when I was playing, but he was always around the team, the players and the equipment guys growing up as a coachs son, said Colin. Hes watched up close just how much guys sacrifice to try to get their name on the Cup, and you can see that knowledge in the way that he plays. I couldnt be any more proud of him.

After all the arguments, conspiracy theories and blame games associated with the Campbell last name over the last two years, Wednesday night had none of that. It was all about a father and son enjoying their precious first moment with the Cup.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

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Morning Skate: No place for Gudas’ slash on Perreault

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while enjoying the new Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee flavor at Dunkin’ Donuts. It’s not Cookie Dough, but what is after all?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) and PHT writer James O’Brien has the details on Radko Gudas getting ejected for an ugly, reckless and dangerous slash to Mathieu Perreault’s head last night. Gudas should be facing a long suspension for a play that has no place in the NHL. It’s time for Flyers fans to stop making excuses for a player who’s no better than a cheap-shot artist and hatchet man. He has to face the music for consistently trying to hurt his fellow players.  

*Frank Seravalli has some of the details for a historic GM meeting in Montreal where NHL hockey was born in the first place.

*You always need to link to a service dog being part of the pregame face-off ceremonies. That’s like a rule here at the morning skate?

*Cam Atkinson and the Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a seven-year contract extension, according to reports from the Athletic.

*It’s been quite an eventful year for Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet and some of it has been to the extreme both good and bad just a month into his first year as bench boss.

*For something completely different: Chris Mannix is all-in on the Celtics being the front-runners in the Eastern Conference after their big win over the Golden State Warriors.

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

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Haggerty: For now, Bruins need to ride Khudobin’s hot hand over Rask

These are desperate times for the Bruins even after pulling out a solid, blue-collar 2-1 win over a sputtering Los Angeles Kings team on Thursday night.

The victory ended a four-game losing streak and gave the Bruins just their second road win of the season in eight tries. It was also the fourth win of the season for backup netminder Anton Khudobin, who is a sterling 4-0-2 and has given them everything they could possibly hope for out of the backup spot. The Bruins have a grand total of 18 points on the season and Khudobin miraculously has more than half of those (10 to be exact).

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It’s clearly a far cry from last season for Khudobin, of course, when it took until February for the goalie’s season to get in gear.

But Thursday night’s 27-save effort from Khudobin was also a stunning contrast to what Tuukka Rask has been able to produce this season. Khudobin has a .928 save percentage and 2.35 goals-against average. Rask has a dreadful .897 save percentage while giving them average play between the pipes at best.  

Khudobin is tied for seventh in the NHL with reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in save percentage and Rask is chilling in the NHL goalie statistical basement with retreads Steve Mason and James Reimer.

Quite simply, Khudobin has been way better than Rask and the Bruins have, for whatever reason, played better hockey in front of their backup goalie. Some of it might also be about Khudobin’s more adaptable game behind a Boston defense that can make things unpredictable for their goaltender, but Rask is being paid $7 million a season to be better and figure it out. It would be amazing if this trend continued for the entire season and it would certainly merit more examination from management as to why the rest of the Bruins and Rask can’t seem to combine for an effective, winning product on the ice.

For now, the Bruins need to simply win by whatever means necessary and that amounts to riding Khudobin’s hot streak for as long as it lasts. It should begin with the backup goalie getting a second consecutive start against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night and seeing where it goes from there. Perhaps the extra rest gets Rask additional time to get his game together, or serves as the kind of motivation to get the Finnish netminder into a mode where he can steal games for an undermanned, out-gunned team that needs that right now.

“We’re going to look at it,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked postgame by reporters in L.A. about his goalie for Saturday night. “He played very well against San Jose last time. They’re a heavy team. He seems to do well in these kinds of games with a lot of traffic around the net. But we’ll look at that decision [Friday].”

Khudobin has stopped 57 of 61 shots in his two games in November, so perhaps that level of hot goaltending could also allow the Bruins to survive a month that otherwise might absolutely bury their playoff hopes. Maybe Khudobin finally loses on Saturday night and the goaltending conversation, not controversy, ends as quickly as his point streak. For now, riding the hot goalie is the right call for a team that needs something good to hang onto.

The Bruins are in desperation mode until they get a number of their injured players back. There certainly might not be more of a desperate option than setting their beleaguered sights on a goalie they sent to the minors as recently as last season. But it’s a new season, Khudobin has been excellent and he’s earned a chance to carry this team for a little bit until they can get things back in order.

Calling Khudobin’s number is the right call right now for the Bruins and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be that difficult a choice given what we’ve seen so far this season. 

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