If Gregory Campbell got his way, he would never again talk about the broken leg that ended his season in Game 3 of last year’s Eastern Conference finals. He wouldn’t get recognition for it or, say, get nominated for an award related to it.
Campbell, though, was nominated last week for the 2014 Bill Masterton Trophy, an award that goes to a player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.”
As Campbell said Saturday morning, “I’m very thankful for the recognition of what it takes to come back from an injury. It’s not an easy thing, and something we all sign up for when we play hockey is the risk of having an injury.
“But having said that, when I look at the list of past and present nominees and winners, there’s a lot of inspiring and courageous people that have been nominated and won this award. I feel like there’s been far greater challenges that these guys have overcome, so a broken leg to me isn’t much. So I guess in that sense I don’t think I’m really deserving of the award.”
Campbell has spent this season returning from that broken leg, which he sustained while blocking a shot during a Penguins power play. He remained on the ice for 47 seconds after suffering the break, finally making it off the ice after a successful team penalty kill.
And while Campbell might not have been sure of his worthiness, others certainly were.
“I think it’s fitting,” coach Claude Julien said. “There’s no doubt in my mind. What happened to him last year was a real serious break and he wasn’t able to do much in the summertime for the most part because he had to let it heal and let the bone get stronger.
“And the way he’s come back and he’s fought through it, we know he didn’t have the best start to the season for that reason and just as of late you can see a lot more of Gregory Campbell than we’ve seen before. His skating has picked up to where it used to be. Nothing from his game changed except that his skating, he had to work on it to get it back to the level he’s had it for all these years.”
The injury, Campbell said, “made me realize how lucky I am to play and be a part of this league and this team.”
The nomination for the award is also about sportsmanship, about dedication to the game. As he said, that’s the mentality of the Bruins in general, something that was enticing for him when he arrived in Boston.
“I’ve made a career on doing little things and sacrificing my body for the greater good of the team,” said Campbell, who mentioned Steve Yzerman and Adam Graves as role models who have won the award. “I was really excited to come here because I knew it was a team-first mentality. I’m just trying to fit in. There’s nothing special about my game, but just working hard and following the number of leaders that we have on this team.
“I’ve grown up in hockey and I’ve seen a lot of guys over the years and the success that they’ve had just because they’ve worked hard and they’ve sacrificed themselves and really tried to do anything they can to win. So I want to model myself after the role models that I had growing up and not really make it about me but more about the team.”
Smith is Seventh Player
Reilly Smith was given NESN’s Seventh Player Award Saturday, as voted on by fans. The award goes to the Bruin who has “exceeded the expectations of Bruins fans during the 2013-14 season.” Smith has 19 goals this season, good for fifth on the team, and 30 assists. He’s fifth on the Bruins in points with 49.
“Some of the names that have won that award, it says a lot just to be a part of that group,” Smith said. “I think I’ve worked pretty hard this year and it’s nice to see it pay off a little bit.”
The winger came over to the Bruins last summer in the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas, and it wasn’t clear that he would make the team out of training camp. He had played in only 40 games before this season with the Stars.
Smith has been in a bit of a rut lately, with just one goal in his last 26 games.
“Months ago sitting here in training camp just trying to make the team, that was my first goal,” Smith said. “There’s been a few that I’ve achieved this year and there’s still a lot more that I’m striving for.”
Carl Soderberg returned to the ice for Saturday’s 5-2 win over the Flyers after missing Thursday’s game for the birth of his first child, daughter Sophia. Soderberg got back to Boston at 4 p.m. Thursday from Detroit, and was present for her birth at 8:16 p.m. “It was awesome,” he said. “My wife [Caroline] is healthy and the baby as well. That’s great for us. We are very happy for it right now.” Soderberg said his aunt came over from Sweden to help with the baby, but that he’s had some busy days of late. As he added, “I’m glad to be back here as well. To come here is a rest for me right now, and I’m looking forward to the end of the season too.” . . . Jarome Iginla was scratched with a “very minor” injury, Julien said. Loui Eriksson took his spot on the first line. Kevan Miller was also scratched. Julien said the moves were “maintenance more than anything else.” It was the first game Miller had not played in since Jan. 9. Corey Potter was the third scratch for the Bruins . . . Julien said all the players will go on the trip to Minnesota and Winnipeg. They might not all play, though . . . Adam McQuaid is getting closer to skating, Julien said, but he is not yet back on the ice. McQuaid has not played since Jan. 19.
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.