Steve Kampfer grew up in Jackson, and learned to play hockey well enough to earn a scholarship to the University of Michigan. He was a good student and player on great teams, but few expected Kampfer to make it to the NHL.
What chance he had seemed to vanish in October of 2008, when he was leaving a campus bar. He started jawing with another student, who happened to be on the wrestling team. Things got hot, but it was all just words, until the wrestler picked up Kampfer and turned him upside in a single, sudden move – then dropped him head first on the sidewalk.
Kampfer lay on the sidewalk unconscious, with blood sliding out of his mouth. His stunned friend thought he might be dead.