Defenseman Steven Kampfer is preparing for his second season with the Boston Bruins. The native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round (93rd overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He matriculated at the University of Michigan and completed his four years with the maize and blue. His professional career changed for the better on Mar. 2, 2010 when he was traded to Boston for a conditional fourth round draft choice.
Kampfer finished the 2009-10 season with Boston's AHL affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island, registering one goal and two assists in six games. He returned to the baby Bruins for the 2010-11 season and management saw the progression in his game. On Dec. 9, 2010, he was called up to the big club and played his first NHL game against the New York Islanders. He impressed enough to stay in Beantown for 38 games and contributed five goals and five assists. More importantly, he added smooth, swift skating, deft puck handling and tape to tape passing skills to an already solid blueline.
He gained more confidence with each game he appeared in and credits his Boston teammates for helping him learn the NHL game.
"Everyone on the Bruins helped me out," Kampfer revealed, "Playing with Dennis (Seidenberg) and Z (Zdeno Chara) was so helpful. They always talk about things that will help you get better. The veterans like (Mark) Recchi and (Shawn) Thornton helped me. The great thing is everyone cares about everyone else. In that sense, we are a real team. These guys become your best friends and they all want to see you succeed."
Upon acquiring Tomas Kaberle at the 2011 NHL trade deadline, Boston returned Kampfer to Providence. On Apr. 9, 2011, Steven suffered a knee injury and although he was recalled to Boston for the Stanley Cup playoffs, it was clear the rearguard would not see game action.
Being a part of the Stanley Cup winning team was a dream come true, but the inability to contribute on the ice was a source of frustration.
"I think I ended up with a couple of gray hairs during the playoffs, obviously you wish you could play. Sitting upstairs, you can't control anything, but I was confident in all 23 players."
When asked about the Stanley Cup finals against the Vancouver Canucks, he had great confidence in his mates: "Going into game seven, in the dressing room, seeing the looks on everyone's faces, their determination, I knew we were ready for that game."
At what point during that seventh game did he let himself think about being a Stanley Cup champion?
"After the second period," the rookie continued, "I told Shane Hnidy 'We're the Stanley Cup champions.' With the way the team was playing, I just knew we weren't going to lose that game. It was unbelievable. I still can't describe the feeling."
After Boston won the Stanley Cup, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli informed his young defender that he would petition the NHL in order to have his name engraved onto the Stanley Cup.
"The league hasn't responded yet," he said. "I'm not worrying about it. I'm focusing on working out and being ready for training camp."
The man from Michigan did reveal his plans for his day with the Stanley Cup: "I'll have my day with the Cup on August 25th. I'll take it over to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor then home to Jackson."
The even better news is that four months after suffering the injury, Steven is undergoing full workouts.
"I started working out on July 4th," he said. "I'm working out with Matt Hunwick, Kevin Porter (Colorado Avalanche), Jack Johnson (Los Angeles Kings), and Andrew Ebbett (Vancouver Canucks). I played with all of them at Michigan except for Ebbett, who was my roommate at the Ducks rookie camp. We're skating too. Everything feels good."
During the long season, Steven likes to play Call of Duty on Xbox with his teammates or go catch a movie to relax away from the game.
"My favorite actor is Johnny Depp. I like his sense of humor and that he plays odd characters. I like Jennifer Aniston too. She's my favorite actress. She just blows me away. How is it that she isn't married?"
He's not the only one, eh?
When he ventures away from home, he likes to explore the city of Boston.
"I like history and being in Boston is great for that. I like walking around Boston. I like eating at new restaurants I find along the way."
Steven's musical taste varies depending on the situation and his mood.
"I have a lot of country on my iPod. I like to listen to Toby Keith and Keith Urban. I went to a Keith Urban concert recently and it was awesome," he exclaimed. "When I'm working out, I like the Top 100 on iTunes. I'll listen to Dave Matthews after my work out to help me relax."
He also revealed an affinity for SUVs: "I like the black Cadillac Escalade with chrome rims, like Brad Marchand has."
He continued, "For speed, I like the Corvette convertible. The car I really like, but will probably never own, is the Bentley. Those cars are as sick as you can get."
Looking forward to his second NHL season, he enjoyed a rookie season that few first year NHLers get to experience. He knows next season will be different.
"We have a target on our backs. Everyone will be geared up for us. We need to play our best every night. We now have the mentality that we know how to win. We can make another shot at getting back to the finals."
A conversation with an NHL player is never complete without his answering the obligatory question of what advice he gives to young players who want to be in his skates some day.
"I tell kids to look for ways to make yourself better. Always work harder than you did the day before."
Kampfer has put his own advice to good use; he worked hard to get to the NHL, to earn a Stanley Cup ring and is working even harder to get that indescribable feeling again.