CHICAGO -- Sporting a sling and wearing civilian clothes, Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell returned to the United Center on Tuesday night to watch his team play for the first time since suffering a broken clavicle and rib on March 14 against the Washington Capitals.
While the physical pain mostly has subsided, Campbell still is hurting from Alex Ovechkin's shove, which sent him crashing into the boards and knocked him out for up to two months.
"It's frustrating," Campbell said in the locker room after the Hawks' 2-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. "I love to play and love being out there.
"That's the reason I played 388 [consecutive] games. It's because I know my whereabouts on the ice. I know who's coming after me."
It's been just over a week since the incident, and Campbell will start rehab soon, although with a broken clavicle, there isn't much he can do to speed up the recovery.
"It is what it is, so [it's] tough to rehab that [clavicle]," he said. "I'm going to try and get my legs strong so I'll be ready when I'm healthy enough to play."
"The first week was pretty tough," Campbell continued. "Pretty boring. A lot of sitting around, obviously. I'm looking forward to getting back and hopefully skating in a week or two."
Blackhawks chairman Rocky Wirtz has said in interviews, including one on ESPN 1000 on Tuesday, that he believed Ovechkin should essentially be suspended for the length of Campbell's absence from the lineup. Ovechkin was suspended two games as a repeat offender.
Campbell didn't agree or disagree with Wirtz, but he appreciated the sentiment.
"It's great," Campbell said. "It's nice to have an owner that knows what's going on and sticks up for his players."
Campbell is on the players committee helping the NHL create new rules curbing hits to the head and ones that cause major injury. He isn't sure where his hit qualifies, but he is all for stricter policies.
"We're trying to ... with the league ... implement a rule about the shoulder, the head hits, the blind side hits," Campbell said. "We're discussing that now ... I know us players, we would like to see stiffer penalties for head shots, like the one Brent [Seabrook] took last week."
Ovechkin apologized for the incident and said he didn't mean to injure Campbell.
"I had my head up there," Campbell explained. "I think that's the frustrating part. There's not a chance I can defend myself on a play like that. There's not a thing I can do, and now I'm just sitting and watching.
"It's still frustrating for myself, and I'm still upset, but I have to get over that and move forward."
While there is no target date for his return, Campbell is hopeful the Hawks have a long enough run in the playoffs to return this season. In the meantime, it's all about helping as best he can.
"It's boring," Campbell stated. "But I have to help the guys out as much as I can help."
Jesse Rogers covers the Blackhawks for ESPNChicago.com.