January 31, 2012

Fischler Report: Bruins' Campbell no stranger to pressure

By Stan Fischler

After winning the Cup last year, the Bruins Gregory Campbell knows a bit about pressure. The son of NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations, Colin Campbell, Gregory has thrived in Boston. 

TFR’s Nick Slade interviewed Campbell on the following issues:

* WINNING THE STANLEY CUP WITH THE BRUINS:

It was an amazing journey I will never forget. Ever since I was a kid I’ve watched the playoffs and dreamed of lifting of the Cup over my head.

It was even more dramatic to win it in Game Seven against Vancouver and all I could think about is the people that helped me reach the NHL. 

* YOUR DAD, COLIN CAMPBELL:

He’s been an amazing influence on my hockey career. He’s the reason why I wanted to become a professional hockey player and he was my role model. I got to experience a lot of things most kids didn’t and I took it all in at a young age.

I loved being around the Rangers and going to the rink when he was coaching. My dad has always been there for me and I can’t thank him enough.

* ASSESSMENT OF THE BRUINS:

We have a similar team to what we had last year. We now have now  the experience of winning and knowing how to win. All 82 regular season games are important but the playoffs are what determine a team’s success.

We have expectations to win the Cup again this year. Our team is humble but focused at the same time and we know winning the Stanley Cup isn’t easy. We realize that we need to continue working hard and play consistently.

* GOAL NEVER TO FORGET:

It was Stephane Matteau’s Game Seven game-winning overtime goal against the New Jersey Devils in 1994 to lead the Rangers to the Finals against Vancouver.

 I could still hear Howie Rose chanting “Matteau” and that playoff series made me want to become a professional hockey player.

* GROWTH AS A PLAYER:

Being a part of the Bruins has made me define my role as a player. We have depth and we’re well built to win. That has allowed me to play my game as a role player.

When you’re on a winning team, everyone accepts his role and players work hard for the team rather than for themselves. I thrive in the intangible areas such as winning faceoffs and killing penalties.

* SIMILAR TO LAST YEAR’S CUP WINNING TEAM:

With the exception of two players, it’s the same team as last year. We’ve learned from last year’s experience and when you win something, you want to win it again. 

Our club is built to win the Cup but the playoff race is tight and our club knows that there is no such thing as an easy game.  We realize what our strengths are and we have to play within those strengths like last year’s team.

OBSERVATIONS:

TIM THOMAS has been vilified (Kevin Dupont, Boston Globe) and venerated (Carey Price, Canadiens) for his much-publicized White House snub. The Bruins most valuable player knew that he had ignited a firestorm and made his points, for better or worse. Now it’s time for the pro-Thomas and anti-Thomas camps to douse the blaze and get on with the real NHL issue; a melodramatic homestretch run that could be the most heart-throbbing in history.

MORE GOSSIP:

MSG Network’s Mike Keenan on Rangers vs. Bruins in the homestretch: “It could come down to the injury factor; top players being out at an inappropriate time. Both teams have a commitment to defense and the hard aspects of the game.” … 

The race for coach-of-the-year never has been tighter. Should the Blues continue their high-powered play, Ken Hitchcock will be a favorite along with the Blueshirts’ John Tortorella (Melrose, Mass.). Now that the All-Star break is over, Hitch, an avid student of military history, wants his club to “ramp up the areas that frustrate the hell out of the opposition.” Meanwhile, Torts believes that the “hard camp” he imposed on his club in September will reap rewards in the stretch. “This is going to pay off,” the Rangers coach stressed. “It’s nice to have that in the back of your mind when that’s what we’ve talked about in terms of energy.”  …

The American Hockey League formally inducted four new members into its Hall of Fame. Honored were Joe Crozier, a standout coach in several AHL stops who helped lay the foundation for the Rochester Americans franchise; Jack Gordon, a mainstay in the AHL as a player, coach and manager who won four Calder Cups with the Cleveland Barons;John Stevens, a steady defenseman and team leader who has also received success as a coach; and Zellio Toppazzini, considered the greatest player in the long history of the Providence Reds.

COLLEGE NOTES:

Entering February, 20 of the nation’s 58 Division I teams are within four points of first-place in their conference. … The top three scorers in the nation are all seniors. Austin Smith (Colgate), leading with 41 points, is a native of Dallas and a Stars Draft pick. … The next two are NHL free agents and while undersized, have drawn significant attention from scouts: Spencer Abbott (Maine) and Jack Connolly (Minnesota Duluth). … These three and Wisconsin defenseman Justin Schultz, an Anaheim pick averaging 1.46 points per game from the blue line, are the four favorites for the Hobey Baker Award. … The Score television network in Canada recently signed a deal with Fox Sports to broadcast 10 NCAA games, while Leafs TV carries around 20 games. Combined with events like the recent North Dakota-Clarkson game at MTS Centre, exposure for college hockey north of the border is at all all-time high.