Thanks to some great mentoring from teammate David Backes, Boston Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer is ready to help with fellow rearguard Charlie McAvoy suspended for Game 1 against the Hurricanes. Kampfer credits his whole team but it’s clear the leadership of Backes has prepared him for this moment.
“I don’t think it gets said enough in here that this group is unbelievable from top to bottom,” Kampfer said. “Every guy in this locker room understands what’s going on; knows what the mental grind is for the guys that have been out, it’s one of those things that they’re all good, but I talk a lot with David Backes. He’s been around a long time and he’s kind of been in the same situation. Having a guy like him to bounce ideas off of is awesome.”
Both the 30-year old journeyman blueliner and the 35-year old veteran leader Backes have spent plenty of time in the press box as healthy scratches this season, but in Backes case, instead of sulking, like the true leader he is, he stayed in shape mentally and physically so he would be ready when the call came. Ready he has been as he has twice come into a series and provided not only the desired emotional and physical lift his team needed, but also some offense as well with a goal and three assists in seven games. That goal helped seal the deal for the B’s in the series-clinching 3-0 win in Game 6 with a goal midway through the third period.
For Backes, it was a pleasure helping his teammate get through what can be trying times and also giving advice to the soon-to-be father Kampfer.
“It’s been good,” Backes said. “He’s got a baby on the way, and trying to help him be ready for what it’s going to be like to be a father meant even more to me. So that’s nice for sure. With our playing situations, we’ve shared the same experience and so we can relate on that too. The regular season was more a bit of a trial, where if we’re both out of the lineup, we get to go grab a bite to eat together and talk about stuff that’s not hockey at times. In the playoffs though, it’s a lot more focused, and it’s about what we can use as a team and what the next step will be. Then when we’re on the ice, we’re pushing each other a bit and rubbing elbows to stay ready so that when our number’s called, we’ll have a positive influence. He has that opportunity tonight and I’m sure by staying in the league and working hard, he’ll have that positive influence.”