March 10, 2011

Kampfer empathizes with Chara, former college teammate Pacioretty

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins defenseman Steve Kampfer. (Getty)

BOSTON -- For Bruins defenseman Steve Kampfer, the now infamous play in which Zdeno Chara laid out Max Pacioretty at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night has put him in an emotional bind.

 Kampfer spent the 2007-08 season alongside Pacioretty at the U. of Michigan, and is now plunked right in the middle of having to support both a current teammate in Chara and a former one.

 "I've talked to our agent," said Kampfer, as both he and Pacioretty have the same representative. "I was on the phone with my agent after the hit, just trying to see what the feeling was and if he had talked to his parents. Knowing him and knowing 'Z', you feel bad for both of them because of the whole situation."

 As you might expect, the Bruins blueliner was happy to here a positive update.

 "From what I've heard, Max is doing very well and better than anticipated," Kampfer said, as Pacioretty attempts to recover from a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae.

 "But at the same time, we're trying to move on as an organization here and support (Chara). He's essentially my mentor and I'm learning a lot of things from him. I believe what he said is what happened."

 Kampfer, battling his own concussion woes right now, made sure to let his agent know that he'd be more than happy to help Pacioretty get through this.

 "You feel for both parties," said Kampfer. "It's a rough situation. I've gone through it and I know what it's like to have an injury like that. I can definitely give him some pointers along the way on what he's going to expect and what he's going to encounter."

 The Bruins 22-year-old defenseman had nothing but great things to say about his former fellow Wolverine.

 "He's a good kid and he means well," Kampfer said. "He's a character guy that everyone loves in the locker room and someone everyone wants to be around. He's a good-spirited kid. Just reading comments from their guys, they feel the same way."

 Upon hearing that Chara wasn't punished by the league for the incident, Pacioretty held nothing back when voicing his displeasure with the decision.

 "He's getting bits and pieces of what's going on right now," said Kampfer. "He saw the hit yesterday and I guess he lashed out to the media. It's to be expected from a guy who is hurt. He's definitely hurting right now because his season may be over. It's a rough situation to swallow right now."

 While the two did tussle in the memorable meeting between these two clubs on Feb. 9 at TD Garden, Kampfer said it's simply a part of the job when it comes to being an NHL player and that he'll continue to hope that the Canadiens forward recovers as quickly as possible.

 "I don't think it ever changed," Kampfer said of their friendship. "We both want to play hard and we both want to play physical. If that thing happens where he jumps you, it's part of the game. We had talked about that if we were ever in that kind of situation, we would go.

 "He's a good player and I think he's going to be a great player later in his career. Right now, we all hope and pray he's going to get better, and slowly but surely he'll get back on the ice."