BOSTON — Steven Kampfer has been through a lot in his young career.
He suffered a concussion and a skull fracture in Oct. 2008 in an off-ice incident at the University of Michigan, then another concussion and a sprained neck after returning to the ice in Jan. 2009. In his first pro season last year, he was sidelined briefly with a mild concussion after being recalled from Providence, then missed the end of the season and start of the playoffs with a right knee injury.
But Kampfer came into this year's camp healthy and determined to claim a spot on the big club's roster to start the season. All was going to plan until last Thursday, when Kampfer went down awkwardly when hit by Ottawa defenseman Jared Cowen in the third period of the Bruins' penultimate exhibition game.
"I was trying to stop," Kampfer said at the club's media day on Tuesday. "When the guy hit me I was trying to pull up and my foot got caught in a rut. As soon as it got caught I felt it. You've seen the video. It didn't look pretty and it definitely didn't feel good at all. It was one of those things where the first thing that popped in my head was, 'Oh, no, not again.'"
This time the injury was to his left knee, but wasn't as bad as initially feared. Kampfer suffered a sprained MCL and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.
"The knee's good," Kampfer said. "It's sore, but it's just a sprain, so that's better news than what was anticipated after the game. We'll see how it goes."
This injury isn't as serious as the injury to his right knee last spring, but that previous experience does give Kampfer an idea of what he'll need to go through to return from this latest setback.
"It's the other knee," Kampfer said. "To go through it once with the other knee I guess I know what to expect. But this one not being as severe as the last one, it's definitely easier to cope with this time."
Coping has been the toughest thing for Kampfer, who has already dealt with so much injury adversity in his career. But Kampfer has taken a philosophical approach this time around, buoyed in part by his strong performance in camp prior to the injury.
"Stuff happens in hockey, you can't change that," Kampfer said. "It's part of the game, injuries happen. As far as my camp, I think my game was starting to really come around, I was starting to play well and I was really trying to make a push here. When I get back I just have to go off the same foot I was on. It's a challenge to me when I come back, because when you come back you want to be 100 percent. You don't want to be fighting for three weeks to get back to speed. You want to hit it and go. I won't touch the ice until I'm 100 percent and we know I can help this team."
There's no fixed timetable for when Kampfer will get back in the ice, but his recovery is proceeding faster than after last year's injury to his right knee.
"I can say it's feeling better," Kampfer said. "I'm doing a little more each day, which is always positive. To be able to get rehab going in less than a week is always a positive. Last year I didn't do anything for three weeks before I could even start rehab, so it was definitely frustrating last year with the other knee. It's a positive sign that I'm already being rehabbed."