WILMINGTON, Mass. — Steven Kampfer hasn't been cleared for contact, but apparently nobody bothered to inform Milan Lucic of that.
Kampfer is working his way back from a knee injury suffered in preseason and returned to practice for the first time on Monday at Ristuccia Arena. He wasn't supposed to have full contact yet, but late in the session he and Lucic collided near the blue line when Kampfer was skating backwards when Lucic, skating with his head down and a full head of steam, accidentally ran into him.
Kampfer remained down for a couple moments to collect himself, but reported no ill effects after the workout and was even happy to have suffered the physical test, albeit one that came ahead of schedule.
"I guess we were supposed to wait for that until [Tuesday]," Kampfer said. "But I actually felt fine getting hit like that when I wasn't expecting it. I guess that kind of eases the mind a little bit to know that you can get hit like that."
Kampfer is dealing with a sprained MCL in his left knee suffered in an exhibition game against Ottawa last month. Kampfer has become all too familiar with the rehab process, having suffered a more serious injury to his right knee at the end of last season. He now sports braces on both knees, but has recovered much faster from this injury.
"He's looking good," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "I think he's been skating since we left for the road trip [last Tuesday]. He looked good today in practice. His skating seems to be where it should be. Obviously his conditioning is what we're working on right now. He hasn't been cleared for contact, but after today there's a good chance that will happen pretty soon."
Kampfer had been having a strong camp and had the inside track on the seventh defenseman position on the club before his injury. Now he's trying to get back to speed to make another push for that spot.
"I feel good," Kampfer said. "I feel strong. Turning doesn't hurt. Moving doesn't hurt. It's always a plus when you can get out there and start feeling as good as I did today.
"It's more getting the timing down is the hurdle now," Kamper added. "Getting your timing back on the ice and making sure you're back up to speed. Today was a good indication because it was an up [tempo] practice and I felt good and was able to keep up with the guys."
While he feels good, Kampfer still isn't sure when he'll be ready to get back into game action.
"I'd love to tell you now, but I don't know," Kampfer said. "That's the trainers' decision. That's Claude's decision. When they feel I'm 100 percent, that's when I'll be ready to go. I think I still have to do a few more things, get some more contact in, get a couple more practices in. Then we'll make that decision as it goes."