Published June 16, 2011
VANCOUVER -- Decades in hockey have afforded Colin Campbell experiences and memories that he holds close to his heart, including his Stanley Cup ring that he won as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers in 1994.
Little did he know the greatest was still to come.
It happened Wednesday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Campbell, the NHL's Senior V.P. of Hockey Operations, watched his son, Gregory, raise the Stanley Cup after Boston's 4-0 win in Game 7.
The same kid that walled off the area in his bedroom where the Cup rested for a few hours in 1994 was now, like his father, a Stanley Cup champion.
Dad was so proud.
"That would have to be No. 1," Colin Campbell told NHL.com when asked where Wednesday's moment ranks in his long career. "Every dad will tell you when your kids are born nothing tops that, but in hockey to watch your son win the Stanley Cup, knowing what he's gone through to get here and what it really takes to win the Stanley Cup, it's amazing."
Campbell feels extra gratification because he knows how hard it is for Gregory to be his son and deal with the on-ice ribbing that comes with being the offspring of the League's chief disciplinarian from 1998-2011. Campbell gave his gavel to NHL Senior V.P. of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan before the Stanley Cup Final began.
"There were lots of benefits in coaching him and knowing Steve Yzerman, Adam Graves and Wayne Gretzky -- all those things you get when you're hanging around a dressing room, but there was lots of garbage he had to face," Campbell said. "So, this is real satisfying."
Watching Gregory play these last two months was also the hardest thing Campbell ever had to do in hockey.
"There is nothing that compares to it, nothing," Campbell said. "I've had tough decisions to make in this job with Hockey Operations, and I've done a lot of things in coaching and playing, but there is nothing that compares to this. It's just eight weeks of hell to tell you the truth. You're on the edge of your seat. It's not like you're sitting there saying you want him to score a goal, you're saying, 'Please, just get through the shift without making a mistake.' "
There were nights when Campbell's phone would ring with Gregory on the other end talking about his frustrations with his sparse ice time. There were also nights when the phone would stay silent because Gregory played a lot and was key in helping the Bruins win.
"That's what happens when you're a parent," Campbell said. "You don't get the call when times are good."
If Campbell and his wife were home Wednesday, they wouldn't have waited up for the call. Gregory played more than 14 minutes and finished with an assist, three shots and a skate with Lord Stanley's Cup.
"It was certainly an elevator ride up and down, up and down for him and for us, but that's probably what makes this the most gratifying aspect of this," Campbell said. "He hung in there through thick and thin and when you finally get here, you understand what hockey is all about.
"Now it's his party."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl