BOSTON — Gregory Campbell’s right fibula is now being held together by six pins — the byproduct of a brave piece of shot-blocking during the Eastern Conference final.
But a small sense of relief only arrived for the Boston Bruins winger when his teammates returned to TD Garden on Sunday afternoon.
Campbell was forced to watch the opening two games of the Stanley Cup final on television after undergoing surgery in Boston just before the start of the series. That procedure saw the pins inserted into his leg and some bone fragments removed from it.
As you might imagine, it was the worst possible time to be separated from the team — Campbell’s father, Colin, described it as “gut-wrenching” — but the 29-year-old will now at least get to be back around the guys for the rest of their series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
“He’s going to be with us from here on in,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said Sunday afternoon. “You’re going to see him around here. He wants to be around the team, we want him around the team.
“He’s part of our family. You’ll get to see him. When we go back to Chicago (for Game 5), it will be the same thing.”
The Bruins honoured Campbell during the opening two games in Chicago by setting up a locker stall bearing his name in the visitor’s dressing room at United Center.
The 58 seconds he spent playing on a broken leg after blocking an Evgeni Malkin shot is arguably the most lasting memory of these playoffs so far.
While fans watching that game were gripped as Campbell attempted to clear the puck out of the Bruins zone, his father was rewinding the PVR to try and figure out where exactly he was hit. Colin Campbell, the NHL’s director of hockey operations, had hoped it might just be a “stinger.”
Within 10 minutes he received a text with bad news.
“Two cryptic words — ‘I’m done,”‘ Colin Campbell told sportsnet.ca on Sunday. “It’s so tough to hear that in the playoffs. He loves this time of year and all of a sudden just to have it gone …”
The injury has served as something of a rallying cry for his teammates.
At the risk of sounding cliché, there is a real Band of Brothers-type feel around this Bruins team. They’ve experienced virtually everything hockey can throw at you over the last few years and seem to have grown closer as a result.
On Sunday, Julien was wished a happy father’s day after sitting down at the podium and he quickly cracked that his team had delivered a nice present with Saturday night’s 2-1 victory in overtime.
“Yeah, my kids gave it to me,” he said.
This series has family storylines running right through it.
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman — he was named after the Stanley Cup — has been watching games from the press box with his legendary father Scotty, who serves as an advisor to the team.
Then there is the Campbells.
Just as when Gregory played for the Bruins during the 2011 Cup final against Vancouver, Colin has surrendered all of his hockey operations duties for the series. He is little more than a fan right now.
During a father’s day conversation, he said it has been “gratifying” to see his son follow in his footsteps. Gregory was a frequent visitor to Madison Square Garden as a kid when his father was coaching the New York Rangers.
“Gregory hung out in the dressing room; he was a dressing room junkie,” said Colin Campbell. “He saw how hard they worked off ice, he listened to the hockey talk, the back and forth before games.
“I think there’s a real benefit for kids to make it now when their fathers play in the league or coach in the league.”
It had been a surprisingly productive spring for the depth forward — Campbell scored three goals in a five-game series win over the New York Rangers in Round 2 — until his season was abruptly ended with the Malkin shot block.
The injury has disrupted the four-line rotation that Julien prefers to employ and inadvertently prompted a key adjustment during Game 2. The Bruins coach was searching for a spark when he moved Tyler Seguin onto a line with Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly after a poor first period.
That unit ended up scoring both goals.
Paille, who beat Corey Crawford for the overtime winner, acknowledged Sunday that it’s been tough to play the last few games without his usual linemate Campbell.
“When you play with someone for so many years, you have to kind of adjust,” said Paille. “Having Soupy out, it has been slightly different. Hopefully we can try to find our game now and the other line as well, so that we can just try to focus on that and not play too tense.”
Eventually, Colin Campbell believes his son will be at peace with the way things have unfolded for him this spring. The hockey lifer indicated that the only option available to everyone involved is to keep moving forward.
“When it’s all said and done, when the playoffs are over, he’ll know that it’s part of (what happens) at this time of year,” said Campbell. “People go down and other people have to pick it up. He was able to contribute up to the point of the third round.
“It takes everybody to win and good teams, Stanley Cup teams, they rise above those injuries.”