What kind of teammate is Jack Campbell? Trevor Lewis went for ice cream once with Campbell when the two were playing for the LA Kings. A spot in Hermosa Beach. Lewis happily gobbled down a flavor of the week’s creation.
Campbell took note.
“Every time they had that flavour, I’d have a new DoorDash ice cream on my doorstep,” Lewis says. “I didn’t need that much ice cream, but he would always make sure I had it.”
“You have to be careful,” Morgan Rielly, Campbell’s current Leafs teammate, says. “Because if you plant a seed with him about something that you’re into at the moment, whether it’s golf or cooking or anything that’s easier to plan for, he’ll just start doing nice things for you. And you didn’t ask for it, but he just wants to be a good teammate and friend.”
The Leafs all gathered together after their disappointing loss to Columbus in 2020.
“And then we were talking about what we wanted to do after,” Rielly recalled. “And Soup’s like, ‘We can go to my place.’”
And just like that, Campbell was gone.
“And we got to Soup’s place and he had a massive spread of Chinese food for us,” Rielly said. “Full-on options for everything in big tin-foil cases, with big spoons so you could serve yourself.”
“He just goes above and beyond,” Rielly explained. “He’ll order food, like snacks on the road if we’re all in a room playing cards. Like he’ll just get a delivery of a bunch of candy and treats for everybody, make sure everybody’s got something.”
Derek Forbort, another former Kings teammate and someone who went to high school with Campbell, has fond memories of Campbell’s famous smoker. Campbell had (and still has) one of those high-powered Traeger grills, and was “obsessed with smoking meat for a bit.”
“I remember it would be like 5:30 pm on a Wednesday or something and I get a text from Jack,” Forbort said.
“What are you doing?” the text from Campbell would read.
“Nothing,” Forbort would reply.
“He’d be like, ‘OK, I’ll be right over in 15 minutes.’” Forbort said.
Campbell would arrive armed with three steaks he’d cooked on the smoker for Forbort to enjoy.
“He loves making people happy,” Forbort said. “You have nothing planned and all of a sudden you’ve got Jack coming with three unbelievable rib-eye steaks that he’s been grinding with on the smoker all day.”
Added Forbort: “It was all tasting so good, so I was like, ‘Yeah, Soup, come over as much as you want man.’”
Lewis remembers the first time he met Campbell.
“It’s kind of a funny story,” Lewis says.
Campbell had just been promoted to the Kings. Practice was done for the day.
“He asked if I wanted him to go grocery shopping for us,” Lewis recalled. “He’s like, ‘I know you have kids, so I can go grocery shopping for you.’ And I was like, ‘No, no, no, we got that.’ He it’s just the kind of guy he is. He he’ll do anything for anyone.”
Every Saturday in the offseason back then, Kings players would congregate at the beach for some volleyball and fun in the sun.
“He was the guy that if a ball got hit way too far and he was on the other side (of the net), he would be the first one sprinting to go get the ball so no one else had to go get it,” Lewis said.
Campbell refused to quit on any ball, not unlike the approach he shows off in the crease.
“He’d played defensive volleyball the same way that he plays goalie,” Forbort says. “Like, he never gives up on a puck — (he’s) diving for everything. It was funny to watch.”
Campbell’s competitiveness has always been a staple of his personality.
He and Forbort shared a life sports class together in high school, where they would have fierce battles in badminton and pickleball. “He was like crazy competitive back then,” Forbort says. “Beating him in gym class — you didn’t get to talk to him the rest of the day.”
“He was absolutely the most competitive goalie I’ve ever played with,” Curtis McKenzie, a former teammate in the Dallas Stars organization, said. “In practice, he never wanted to let in the goal from anywhere.”
In fact, if a teammate tried to slip one past when he wasn’t looking, Campbell would chase them down and “rip the puck back in.”
To further indulge their volleyball passions, Campbell and his Kings teammates would often rent out gym space at a volleyball academy. “Jack always had to wear the knee pads because he was always diving for balls,” Forbort says. “(His knees from him) would get all scraped up.”
Back at the beach, Campbell also enjoyed a refreshing dip in the ocean with his boogie board, much to the amusement of his teammates. “Him and all the other nine-year-olds,” Forbort says with a laugh.
“He is a different guy,” Forbort, the current Boston Bruins defenseman, goes on, adoringly. “But he’s such a good guy and such a good teammate that you just love him for it. He’s one of those classic goalies; they kinda have weird little interests.”
Forbort wasn’t surprised Campbell threw a birthday party for his cat. He remembered Campbell running a “mini zoo” when he played for the Kings.
“He loves dogs, too,” Forbort noted. “I have a dog and he would come over and he’s so nice he would just sit there and pet my dog for an hour and a half straight — no breaks.”
Then there’s his adoration for Outback Steakhouse.
“I remember him telling me that he drove 40 minutes to some suburb outside of LA to go to an Outback Steakhouse,” Forbort says. “Like, ‘Jack, are you kidding me?’ I’m sure it’s just restaurants I grew up with in Port Huron (Michigan). He’s a very loyal guy, so he stays loyal to his chain restaurants, too. ”
“I think he actually does like Red Lobster,” Lewis added.
Campbell and Rielly have bonded over their shared love for cooking.
“I don’t know if we cook the most on the team,” Rielly said, “but it’s what we talk about in the morning. Like, ‘What’d you cook last night?’”
The two of them trade home cooking videos on YouTube that they’ve attempted to watch and master, including plenty starring Gordon Ramsay.
Go to dinner with Campbell, teammates past and present say, and you can forget about the bill.
“He likes to buy guys dinner,” Rielly says. “He likes to pick a restaurant on the road. He’ll ask you to come and he always takes care of it.”
“He was always very willing to throw down a credit card and chip in,” Jamie Oleksiak, another former teammate from the Stars organization, says. “You’d kinda be like, ‘No, Soups, I got this one.’”
Mike Valley, who coached Campbell during his early years in the Stars organization, chuckles at the stunt he tried to pull one summer with one such check. Campbell was still young in his career. He had just finished an offseason training session with Valley and two other NHL goaltenders, Brian Elliott and Al Montoya.
Elliott had a place nearby on Lake Wisconsin. The plan was to hop on his boat and then zip over for a nice meal at a restaurant on the water.
Valley decided to play a prank on Campbell while he went to the bathroom.
“I’ve already talked to the waitress,” he told Elliott and Montoya. “I’ve already paid the bill. But when Jack comes back, let’s tell him that we’re gonna dine and dash.”
They would ask for the check and then run for the boat, they told Campbell when he returned.
“Oh my god guys, we can’t do that,” Campbell told them, hesitant to participate in the apparent con.
The waitress returned with the check, already paid unknownst to Campbell. “OKAY! Let’s go!” they said, before scampering down to the boat.
There was no Jack though.
As Valley recalled, “Jack had gone back to the waitress, given her a hundred dollar bill to pay for everything and then comes walking down (to the dock).
“And we’re like, ‘Jack, where’d you go?’ And he’s like, ‘I couldn’t do it. I just went and paid the bill.”
“That’s just who Jack is,” Valley said. “He’s an honest, hardworking, unbelievable guy that will never, ever, ever want to hurt anybody.”
Campbell could also be a goof himself.
He and Forbort had parking spots next to each other out in LA with the Kings.
“Every day, I would come out after practice and my windshield wipers would be up,” Forbort said.
And the next day, Campbell would always show up wearing a little smirk on his face around Forbort.
“Just the stupidest little joke ever, but it was actually pretty funny by the end of it,” Forbort said. “Because I wouldn’t see it until I got in my car and then it’d be like, Goddammit, now I got to go out and put my windshield wipers down.”
As for those stick taps that Campbell is endlessly giving teammates after he makes a save, those were going on long before he joined the Leafs.
“At first, we just kinda found it funny,” Travis Morin, another former Stars organization teammate, said. “You expect goalies to be in their own zone and their own world. A lot of them, you try to stay away from and not bug when they’re playing.”
Campbell was the opposite.
“He’ll tell you, ‘That was great. You did a great job,’” Morin recalled. “Anytime you get the whistle, he’s like, ‘Hey! Great job! Great job!’”
“I never really even thought of anything of it,” Lewis says. “I thought it was just Soupy being Soupy, telling guys, ‘great job.’ I feel like every time you’d skate by him, he’d be like, ‘Great job.’”
“It’s really the little things with Soupy,” said Oleksiak, now a Seattle Kraken defenseman. “He’ll go out of his way if he knows you need something or he knows that you need a little pick-me-up or something. He’s not afraid to really put himself out there and just use some positive words or pay for dinner or whatnot.
“You can tell he’s a genuine guy,” Oleksiak went on. “He doesn’t really put on an act. He doesn’t do it in front of people to boost himself up. He’s genuinely a pretty caring guy. He just wants the best for everybody, do you know?”
Almost too good to be true.
“Oh trust me,” Lewis said, “I thought about it a lot of times, just, can this guy really be this nice? But he genuinely is. He genuinely cares about all his teammates and he wants to make life easier on them. He’s the kind of guy that will definitely go out of his way to do anything for you and he does n’t expect anything back in return.
“He’s an awesome guy and he’s one of a kind for sure.”
(Top photo: Dan Hamilton/USA Today)