June 13, 2012

Bliss in Boston keeps Campbell, Kelly from testing market

By Jesse Connolly

At one point or another, Chris Kelly and Greg Campbell likely wondered if the grass might be greener on the other side, if better opportunities might’ve been awaiting them in a hockey town other than Boston. 

Greg Campbell's deal will keep him in Boston through the 2014-15 season. (Getty Images)

But knowing just how good things are in the Hub of Hockey, neither of them was all that interested in finding out.

General manager Peter Chiarelli made it official that the two centers will be returning next season, with Campbell signing a three-year deal and Kelly agreeing to a four-year pact in principle. Both will be passing up a chance to test the free-agent waters and a shot at more money in favor of staying with the Black and Gold.

“He’s an individual, due to the lack of centermen out there in the free market, that took less than he would’ve got on the market. Let’s make no bones about that,” Chiarelli said of Campbell. “All along, Gregory has told me he wants to be back with the Bruins. Although it took a little bit of time, we made it work. I can’t say enough about the glue that Gregory gives us and his style of play.”

Campbell has certainly carved out a vital role with the club since arriving via trade from the Panthers in the summer of 2010. He said his camaraderie with linemates Shawn Thornton and Dan Paille played a big role in his decision to stay in Boston being a no-brainer. Campbell also cited the trio’s importance to the team’s success, as the three have been relied upon more than most fourth lines by coach Claude Julien.

“I’ve been able to play with Thorty for the last two years on a consistent basis, and Danny, too. It makes it a lot easier,” said Campbell. “It’s a tough league to play in. When you have support and know one another’s tendencies, every little bit helps. We’re a line that is valued and that’s a rare thing in the NHL. I think the importance of depth and a fourth line has really come to light in the last couple years. You see the teams that have won have really relied on their whole lineup.

“We play an important role. Obviously our role is different than a lot of other players and not as glamorous, but nonetheless it’s important and that’s what I like about Boston. We’re appreciated with what we do and we just try to contribute any way possible.”

Kelly, fresh off a season that saw him bury a career-high 20 goals, is immensely grateful for the appreciation that’s been shown by both the entire organization and its tremendous fan base.

“To be a Bruin is something that’s been really special to me,” said Kelly. “My wife and I have fallen in love with the city and the community. Just going to the rink every day and playing in front of passionate hockey fans has been something great to experience. Obviously getting to win a championship in Boston was something that I can’t describe.

“I know Peter, management and the whole organization (wants) that to become a regular thing. I think that was a huge reason why I wanted to come back. It’s such a great organization that wants to win. You only get so many opportunities to get a chance to win, and obviously I wanted to get as many chances as I could, so Boston was the right decision.”

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.