NHL Rumors: Is Gregory Campbell Looking to the Czech Republic?

By Emma Harger

Since the NHL lockout began, 10 members of the Boston Bruins have chosen European teams to play for in the interim. Right now, most European teams are on a break because of international competitions occurring throughout Europe, so some players have come home (for example, Tyler Seguin). But when the break ends, it will still be November, and unless something huge happens on the labor negotiations front soon, the games in the 11th month of the year are still totally canceled.

So, there could soon be 11 Bruins who have chosen overseas playing destinations.

Gregory Campbell is reportedly considering joining HC Mountfield, the Czech Republic team that Andrew Ference is playing for on his second lockout-related tour of duty.

Since mid-September, Campbell has been seen around Boston practicing with teammates at Boston University’s hockey facilities. He’s also spent time doing his best “The Wire” impression by participating in ride-alongs with the Roxbury police’s gang unit.

But the fact is that he hasn’t seen any form of proper game action since April and he really wants to be in tiptop shape for when the season starts.

“If you ask an injured player during the season, they can work out as hard as they want. They can get bag-skated as hard as they want by a coach…But unless you’re actually thrown into a game, you’re never in game shape,” he said.

There’s nothing like a competitive game, clearly.

Mountfield’s lineup is made up mostly of European players, or Czech-born NHL players with Czech passports, so if they have an opening for another foreign player like Ference, Campbell could potentially fit in nicely. Some teams have a limit on how many foreign players they can dress in each game, like in the Swiss league, where only four imports can play one game (which could be part of the reason that Max Pacioretty‘s time with HC Ambri-Piotta didn’t really work out). As far as I know, the Czech league has no such rule.

If Campbell were to sign with Mountfield, he would be the first member of the Merlot Line to find work overseas. Shawn Thornton has given consideration to joining the Belfast Giants over in his mother’s birthplace, but as Daniel Paille is the team’s NHLPA representative, it may behoove him to stay in North America.

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