In 1986, Troy Murray played a series for the Blackhawks against Toronto with two broken ribs and a broken hand.
When it was disclosed after the series, Bob Pulford — nearly in tears — suggested Murray might have been the toughest player he had ever known.
But Murray wanted no congratulations for playing in pain. In the NHL, and in the postseason, that’s what hockey players do.
So when this is over, you’re likely to find out that Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews, Dave Bolland and several other Blackhawks have been in agony for weeks or even months.
Some will never reveal publicly what ailed them for fear of it sounding like an excuse, knowing that all players are hurting this time of year.
It is only a matter of degree.
So Gregory Campbell is a bit embarrassed these days, having become a legend in Boston for finishing a shift — 47 seconds — in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals …after breaking his leg on a shot block.
He said, simply enough, that this is what hockey players do.
“There’s been an overwhelming amount of support for me. It’s humbling, to be honest with you,” Campbell said when addressing the media this week in Boston. “The way I look at it — and it might sound naive of me — but I was just trying to do whatever I could to kill the penalty. At that point I really wasn’t thinking much.
“There are a lot of players right now that are playing not 100 percent, and there’s a lot of guys that play through pain. I don’t see myself any different than anybody else in this league.
“A lot of players are willing to do whatever they can to win. I’m no different than anyone else on these two teams in the (Stanley Cup Final). I was just trying to finish the play and do my job.”
Campbell said he knew something was wrong after taking a shot from Evgeni Malkin, but since he couldn’t get to the bench, he did the best he could to occupy space and clog the shooting lanes, while hopping helplessly on one leg.
“I’ve got asked that a few times, ‘Did you know it was broken? You know, I can’t say with 100 percent certainty that I knew it was broken, but it felt different,’’ Campbell said. “I blocked a few shots before. This just seemed different.
“Once I was able to get back to my feet, I was fairly sure something was wrong. The pain aspect, yeah, I mean, it hurt a little bit. But you’re stuck on the ice with a couple of the best players in the world. You really don’t have much time to think about anything else but trying to help kill a penalty.”
Because that’s what hockey players do.
They don’t flop around on the ice looking for attention, and they don’t go searching for any after the fact.
“I’m not going to put myself in front of anybody else and say I’m the picture of the Bruins. This Original Six organization goes back a long way,” Campbell said. “There’s 18 other guys in that room that would do the same thing, and that’s what makes us successful, and makes us a hard team to play against.”
Campbell was asked to address the NHL media because there had been so many requests to talk to him after his surgery, but he’s having a hard time understanding the interest in his story.
Obviously, he says, he would have gone to the bench if he had been closer, or had the puck been cleared, but with no ability to skate, he knew it would have meant a prolonged 5-on-3 while he hobbled off.
“I tried to get in the lane and prevent passes,’’ Campbell said. “Obviously, I wasn’t very effective at that, but at least I tried to not be a liability. I think it was more beneficial that I stayed out there than if I just kind of headed for the bench.”
He’s cognizant of what other players around the league would think of this much focus on something they see as less than extraordinary, so Campbell is the reluctant hero in a town that has seen its share of them in recent months.
“That’s kind of the nature of hockey players,” Campbell said. “It’s not me specifically. It’s everybody in this league, the will to want to succeed and play for your teammates and have pride in yourself.
“But it just goes to show you how tough you have to be to play in this league. There’s 700, 800 other players that are tough like that and play through things every day.”
That is, after all, what hockey players do.
źListen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score’s “Hit and Run” show at WSCR 670-AM, and follow him @BarryRozner on Twitter.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.