When Steven Kampfer was a child growing up in Ann Arbor, Mich., he couldn’t get enough of the Red Wings. This weekend, he’ll play them twice as an opponent, as the Wings are in town Friday and the B’s will be in Detroit on Sunday.
“I grew up 40 minutes away from there. I always watched them,” Kampfer said Friday. “Bobby Probert was there, [Brendan] Shanahan, [Steve] Yzerman. Back in their heyday, that was the best thing in Detroit.”
Kampfer played at Joe Louis Arena at various stages of his hockey career. As a kid, he stepped onto the historic surface while playing in the Little Caesars (remember those commercials ? Pizza pizza, indeed).
“Growing up playing in that rink, we played at the Joe when I was a kid,” Kampfer said. “It was always awesome walking out after practice and seeing them leave the rink.”
Kampfer would also play there in college for both the Great Lakes Invitational and annual contests vs. Michigan State . The 22-year-old is expecting 40 friends and relatives to be in attendence for the game, including his parents, who now live in Florida but are flying back to Michigan so they can return to the arena they once drove their son to for games and practices.
‘I grew up playing out of Joe Louis, so they want to go back and see me there,” Kampfer said. “I have my whole family there and a lot of friends and relatives there as well.’
Kampfer wore No. 5 in college, and it isn’t much of a shock as to why.
“I used to watch Nik Lidstrom and try to imitate him as much as I could when I was a kid,” he said. “Now to share the ice with him will be fun tonight, but you want to win a game as well.
“He just makes the game look easy. He’s so calm with the puck. Every time he touches it, he knows what he’s supposed to do. He’s always thinking one step ahead of the game. That’s what you want to do as a defenseman. You want to know what you’re going to do before you get the puck. That’s something he’s always done. It’s pretty special to watch.”
While Kampfer has embraced the Bruins, he can only hope those he once went to Wings games with have done the same. He’ll find out whether or not that’s the case in short order.
‘Playing the Wings, I think it will be fun [for them]. I think tonight will be kind of a stepping stone. We’ll see peoples’ true colors, if they’re really Bruins fans or still Wings fans.’