Jack Campbell is just trying to get through each minute, each hour, each day with a new outlook on his position.
The Reign’s newest goaltender is suddenly the team’s starter. With a 36-save shutout of San Diego in his debut last Saturday behind him, there’s plenty to look forward to for Friday’s 7 p.m. game at Citizens Business Bank Arena. He’ll again be the starter, but this time for the much-anticipated home opener and this time against his former team, the Texas Stars.
“Just getting traded, it was exciting obviously. Initially maybe a little disappointing that I didn’t get to where I maybe should have been with Dallas but as soon as I started talking with [goalie coach] Dusty [Imoo] the big thing was just letting everything go and just starting over and that’s what we did,” said Campbell, who was acquired in an offseason trade for defenseman Nick Ebert.
Campbell, 24, has had to expedite the “settling-in” process due to unforeseen circumstances. An early injury sustained by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick resulted in the promotion of Peter Budaj, which ultimately moved Campbell to the No. 1 spot with Ontario.
“The nice part about Dusty is he makes it super simple,” Campbell said. “I think the biggest thing is less is more with me. He just preaches come to the rink, don’t think about hockey too much away from it, as far as beating myself up about stuff. Just enjoy the day, go with the flow, that’s what we’re going with and then when we get here we work on a couple things that I need to improve and it makes it just being in the moment. Just trying to get better at those things and then I end up getting a lot better because those little things turn into bigger things. It’s good.”
As first looks go, Campbell passed with flying colors — backstopping the Reign in a 2-0 win in hostile San Diego while helping the team go 6-for-6 on the penalty kill. That was just one game, but the next one is a much different one: he’ll face the organization that drafted him a No. 11 overall in 2010. To make matters more interesting, his final season in Texas wasn’t a memorable one. He went 7-7-4 in AHL play but was sent down to the ECHL for nearly two months late in the season.
“It’s good to get it over with early,” head coach Mike Stothers said. “I think back to last year, where was our second and third game of the season? In Manitoba, against a team that Budes played for the year before. So, now Jack’s basically getting the same thing. He’s getting to see his old Texas teammates.
“I don’t make too big a deal out of it. You’ve got to play everybody sooner or later, so you might as well play them. That’s something that only Jack can answer. He should be familiar with some of their shooters. That always helps, right? It’ll be an exciting time for him just for the fact that it’s our home opener and he’s playing.”
Typically known as a run-and-gun team Texas is already 2-0 this season and is averaging a whopping 5 goals a game, so Campbell will have his work cut out for him. The goal is to not overthink things.
“I’m not really focused on any sort of thing down the road or whatnot, just what we’re doing and keeping the same mindset throughout the day and being in the moment is what we say,” Campbell said of his mantra with Imoo. “Just trying not to blow anything out of proportion.
“Obviously human nature I’d be excited to play Texas. I have a lot of good buddies there and the fans were great to me and I really appreciate the Dallas organization, but I’m with L.A. now and I’m just trying to go into it looking at it just like another game. I know it’s easier said than done but that’s what we’re trying to do and I feel pretty good about it.”