Rob Blake remembered his own Los Angeles Kings debut, which came shortly after his collegiate career ended when Bowling Green was eliminated by Maine in a best-of-three series in March, 1990. One week later, he was skating on the ice at the Great Western Forum.
“I flew from Detroit to L.A.,” he recalled. “Morning skate, played that night. So you didn’t have time to think about it, which is kind of nice.”
On Saturday, Andrew Campbell will make his NHL debut following a much wider gap between amateur hockey and the National Hockey League, one that displayed remarkable perseverance by the six-year pro.
“That’s probably the number one thing. Persevered,” Blake said. “[He] probably had to battle through a lot of years here with seeing different guys getting opportunities and different guys making careers and stayed to the pace, stayed true to it, and led that team this year as a captain. He’s been very good there.
Rob Blake, on why Jeff Schultz wasn’t called up:
He’s been good, too. They’re battling for first overall. Obviously with [Brayden] McNabb playing, and with [Kevin] Gravel coming in and some of the younger guys, Schultz is a…steadying influence. We understand this was an opportunity here, and Soup has worked for that.
Blake, on Campbell being close to a sixth or seventh defenseman in the NHL:
He’s probably been in that mode. We had nine one-way [contracts] to start the season, and then we lost Ellerby and that. So Soupy has been in that mix, I think, pretty much all along. It’s a good opportunity here for him at this level to see, too.
Blake, on Campbell’s training camp compared to previous seasons:
I don’t know what to base it off of, and they said it’s the same as he has been. I think the year before he had an exhibition in Colorado where he was really good, and actually he got called up here…Didn’t get an opportunity. Wasn’t in the lineup. It’s good for him. You’ve got to be pretty excited.
Blake, on Los Angeles’ late season call-ups:
With the way it is – the cap’s so tight now – you’re not going to see extra guys called up by any means. It would have to deal with injuries and stuff, similar to what this situation is. That’s the only way you can get other guys up.