Gregory Campbell was a healthy scratch Saturday for the first time as a Bruin. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Gregory Campbell 'putting personal agendas aside' after healthy scratch

DJ Bean
April 06, 2015 - 8:54 am
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WILMINGTON -- Long after his teammates had showered, fulfilled their media responsibilities, grabbed food in the team lounge and headed home, Gregory Campbell was still on the ice at Ristuccia Arena by himself. A healthy scratch for the first time in his Bruins career Saturday, Campbell didn't feel ready to leave following Monday's approximately 40-minute practice (one for which he took the ice early). The image of him shooting pucks alone for approximately 55 minutes was fitting of his 2014-15 season: He wants to be better, but his spot in the lineup is questionable at best. "I like being out here," Campbell said as he got off the ice, adding: "I wanted to do some things. "It's uncharted," he said of not playing. "I've never experience it before, but at this stage of the game, it's about putting personal agendas aside and it's about honoring the team and the decisions the coaches make. It is what it is. It's about honoring the team." Saturday's benching was perhaps overdue given the way Campbell and his fellow fourth-liners have fared this season. After coming to Boston and centering the best fourth line in the league with Brad Marchand and Shawn Thornton, Campbell's eventual line with Daniel Paille and Thornton routinely put opponents' bottom-sixers on their heels, most notably helping change the momentum of Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals after Vancouver took it to Boston in the early shifts. Yet those vintage Merlot Line days, which really lasted until Campbell broke his leg in the 2013 Eastern Conference finals, are long over. Thornton is gone, Paille has been a healthy scratch in Boston's last six games, while Campbell at long last sat over the weekend. That's where the aforementioned personal agendas may come in. A free agent at season's end who seems unlikely to return, Campbell has given a lot to this team. It can't be easy to go from a fan favorite to a scapegoat in what's been a trying season for both him and the Bruins. While criticism of Campbell has probably reached the piling-on stage, the criticism is still warranted. Campbell, who has played 69 games, could very well finish this season with fewer points (12) than he had in the lockout-shortened season (13). Furthermore -- and perhaps most telling -- he is dead last on the team with a 41.52 Corsi For percentage. That means that, unlike years past when his line would carry play, the opponent usually has the puck when Campbell is on the ice. Still, Julien has been hesitant to sit Campbell. In fact, when Brett Connolly became available to play last week, Julien scratched Max Talbot instead of Campbell on Thursday. Julien's preference to play Campbell is likely as a result of the player's penalty-killing ability, his status as what Julien says is Boston's best left-handed faceoff man and, as can be the case with Julien, loyalty. In what could very well be one of Julien's red herrings, Campbell skated at left wing with Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith in Monday's practice. Whether he's on the ice or in the press box going forward is not yet known. "I think Soupy's one of our great faceoff guys and he's a good penalty killer," Julien said after Saturday's game. "At the same time, I feel we've got a lot of players that can go in and out right now. That's one of the reasons, but at the same time I'm trying to create a little bit of competition here. I don't want anybody comfortable, knowing that they're automatics game-in and game-out." Campbell certainly wouldn't consider himself an "automatic," but he vows to not let his attitude sour. "I don't know what's going to happen going forward, but I've had a lot of pride for this team and I've played with a lot of pride for the last five years," he said. "I'll continue to have a lot of pride for this team as long as I'm here. "I love this team. I only want the best for it."