The French have a wonderful expression to describe people who seem to carry a spirit of joy wherever they go. It’s called a joie de vivre and, in French, it expresses the idea of a cheerful enjoyment of life and an exaltation of the human spirit.
For example, one might enjoy taking part in conversations with friends, a joy of eating, or even playing sports – like having grown men fire hard rubber spheres at your face mask. A joie de vivre is usually seen as a joy for everything, which becomes a philosophy of life; or, as the German’s think of it, a Weltanschauung.
I’m Talking Here About the Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell
In short, I’m talking about the Toronto Maple Leafs’ backup goalie Jack Campbell. For me, he seems to be a perfect example of that joie de vivre.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded for Campbell last season, one of the most interesting aspects of that trade was the backup goalie’s personality. He was, in short, happy and even effervescent – a personality, as it turned out, both on and off the ice. [As an aside, to my eyes, Ilya Mikheyev and Jumbo Joe Thornton seem to also have a bit of that same personality as well.]
Campbell never seemed to miss a chance to complement and encourage his teammates on the ice; and, off the ice, he seems to smile happily all the time. It seems as if there’s like – as far as I can see – not a sullen or surly bone in this young goalie’s body.
Campbell Proves to Be a Solid Backup Goalie
As a player, Campbell also proved to be a solid backup. His record last season with the Maple Leafs was 3-2-1 with a goals-against-average of 2.63 and a save percentage of 0.915 in six games played.
This season, he’s been even better. He won both games he’s started and has posted a goals-against-average of 2.00 and a save percentage of 0.923. Through it all, he’s proven he was just the person the team hoped it could find for the backup goalie position.
Campbell Wins Two Games this Season
Campbell’s played twice this season for the Maple Leafs. His first game was on Jan. 16, when he beat the Ottawa Senators by a score of 3-2. Then, on Jan. 24, he played his second game of the season against the Calgary Flames. The Maple Leafs also won the game by a 3-2 score.
However, the game wasn’t without its issues. During a scrum at the end of the game, the Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk landed with both knees in the middle of Campbell’s back as Campbell lay in the goal crease stopping the puck.
Campbell was slow to get up, but stayed in the game. In fact, he noted that “The boys played really well and it’s just huge to come out of this barn with two points.” Campbell added that he “never” thought about coming out of the match.
Campbell Injury Was Worse than Expected
Campbell had won both of his starts this season. However, he seemed to have suffered some sort of injury during the game. For his part, after the game Tkachuk seemed to make light of Campbell’s apparent injury choosing instead to focus on the fact it was “classic” that others were on his case about what happened. It was entirely an accident – the kind of accident he always seems to be blamed for.
In fairness to Tkachuk, Campbell was hurting before the Flames’ winger “fell” on him knee-first, so it was unclear what the injury was exactly or when it occurred. What was clear was that the Maple Leafs’ goalie was visibly hurt during the last part of the game on Sunday.
Campbell Missed the Next Practice and then the Next Month
Although after the game, Campbell noted he “felt great” and made light of Tkachuk’s part in the incident, he missed the next day’s practice. At the time, head coach Sheldon Keefe reported that Campbell’s injury was being evaluated.
For Campbell and the team, the worst was soon realized when Maple Leafs coach Keefe reported that Campbell’s leg injury was projected to keep him out of the lineup “for weeks.” With Campbell gone, Michael Hutchinson was called up to fill in for the team.
Because Campbell was not close to returning to the team, in late January he was placed on the long-term injured reserve. Three weeks ago, Keefe announced that Campbell was progressing but still expected to be out for a few more weeks. The timeline hadn’t changed.
A Recent Jack Campbell Sighting
During the time Campbell has been out of the lineup, the Maple Leafs continued to play – and play well. As a result, they’re in first place in the all-Canadian North Division of the NHL. But where’s Campbell? And, how’s he progressing.
A few days ago, there was a Campbell sighting. A video of his on ice workout was taken and – no surprise here when you think about it – there’s Campbell on the ice stopping pucks and having what looks to be an immense amount of fun doing Maple Leafs’ practice drills.
As the video below suggests, the first good news is that Campbell’s leg seems to be on the mend for the Maple Leafs. It’s also good news that the joy of his personality hasn’t seemed to have waned. For example, there he is hanging out with his teammates and chucking his blocker at them as he tries to make saves during practice drills.
It Looks as if Campbell Will Return Soon
According to the projections, Campbell’s leg injury might be about a week away from allowing him to return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup. However, it’s really good news that Campbell was back on the ice before the team’s regular practice to work with Maple Leafs’ goalie coach Steve Briere.
What might even be better news is that Campbell hasn’t lost that joie de vivre that defines him. For that, Campbell is exactly the kind of a teammate any NHL team would want to have on its roster. There’s no doubt in my mind that he adds much to the Maple Leafs dressing room.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf