By: Jeff Playdon | Follow me on Twitter @PlaydonJeff
On December 17th, Bruins alumni player Gregory Campbell will celebrate his 38th birthday. Throughout Campbell’s twelve-year career in the NHL, he spent five of them with the Boston Bruins (2010-2015). Campbell was notably on the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Bruins team and helped the team in a big way playing all 25 games in the playoffs. Since Campbell is celebrating his 38th birthday today, let’s look back at Campbell’s career in the NHL.
Drafted by the Florida Panthers
During the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, the Florida Panthers selected Campbell with the 67th overall pick. Campbell did not see much playing time during the ’03-’04 season, as he played just two games. However, the Panthers included Campbell in more playing time the following season as the left-winger played 64 games and registered nine points.
One of those points was Campbell’s first goal in a 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. Campbell would spend four more seasons with the Florida Panthers and recorded 76 points (26 goals, 50 assists). On June 22nd, 2010, the Florida Panthers traded Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton to Boston for a 1st round, and 3rd round pick in 2010 and Dennis Wideman during the offseason. Campbell was now a Bruin and looked to help a winning franchise.
Playing with the Bruins
Campbell became the premier fourth-line center for the Bruins for the next five years and had the best season of his career during his first year as a Bruin in 2010-2011. The Bruins were evidently one of the better teams, especially during the second half of the season. Campbell finished with 13 goals and 29 points with a plus-11 rating and 93 PIM in 80 games. During the 2011 playoffs, he would go on to center what would be known as the “Merlot Line” with Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille as his wingers. The Bruins, alongside Gregory Campbell, defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win the Stanley Cup.
The following season Campbell and his teammates looked to go back-to-back and win the Stanley Cup again. But, unfortunately, Boston couldn’t make it past the first round when they lost to the Washington Capitals in seven games in a heartbreaking OT loss in game seven. Campbell would finish the ’11-’12 season with 16 points (8 goals and eight assists). The following season, which was delayed due to the NHL lockout, Campbell and his fellow teammates looked to bring back the cup to Boston.
During the 2013 NHL playoffs, on June 5th, 2013, during Game three of the Eastern Conference Finals, Campbell played on the top penalty-kill unit and sacrificed his body to take a slapshot from Evgenii Malkin, ultimately breaking his right fibula. There was apparent discomfort, and everyone in TD Garden watching could instantly tell that something was seriously wrong.
Still, Campbell managed to stagger to his feet and continued a conscious effort to kill the penalty. As the puck exited the zone, the forward skated on his broken leg to the bench. The crowd erupted with massive chants of “Campbell! Campbell!” cementing a memory in Bruins fans’ hearts for many years to come. The Bruins won the game in double-overtime, eventually sending the team to the Stanley Cup Finals against the Chicago Blackhawks. However, while the Bruins were in the Stanley Cup, they would be without Campbell since he broke his leg. Campbell’s departure from the team was felt, and Boston lost to Chicago in six games.
Off to Columbus/Retirement
The tough left-winger would play two more seasons in Boston before signing a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets. On July 1st, 2015, Campbell signed a two-year agreement with Columbus, but he was placed on unconditional waivers during his second season with the team. It was rumored that he refused to report to Columbus’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate and was released from his contract two days after being placed on waivers. Campbell would eventually retire from the NHL in 2017, bringing his career to an end. Campbell played 12 seasons in the NHL, including 803 games, 71 goals scored, 116 goals assisted, and 75 fights. After retiring from hockey, Campbell joined the Blue Jackets as a development coach.
Gregory Campbell will always be known in Boston as a tough-nosed, lay it all on the line kind of a player, and in Boston, that means a lot. So Campbell, on behalf of the entire BNG Hockey Organization, we wish you a Happy 38th Birthday!