Bruins President Cam Neely  joined the Dale & Holley show to talk about the B’s as they return to the Garden ice Thursday night for their home opener. Neely talked about the team’s plans for rookie Tyler Seguin , why signing Zdeno Chara  to a seven-year contract was the right move and his thoughts on the goaltending situation.
Neely said the Bruins were in an enviable position with Seguin, the second pick in the draft, because they have so much depth. “You have to be careful with expectations for an 18-year-old regardless of where he goes in the draft,” Neely said. “Some can adapt quicker than others, some have the size and strength of an NHL  player, some don’t. With Tyler, we’re taking it very slow, we’re taking it very cautious with him.
“We’re certainly in a different position than most second overall picks would be in, they generally are on a team that maybe isn’t as deep as what we currently have. We’re able to have in ease him into this league and get comfortable, learn a little bit more on the defensive side. We expect him to get better and better as time goes on.”
Neely said the Bruins weighed the pros and cons of re-signing Chara for seven years, but that his commitment to conditioning and overall good health were important factors.
“It was very important for Zdeno to look into finishing his career in Boston,” Neely said. “We obviously had to take a long, hard look at the seven years and where will he be if he remains healthy, which he has been for the most in his career. We feel with the way he works out, the way he’s so dedicated to his conditioning, the size and strength of this man, he’s going to be a player that other teams will still not enjoy playing against.”
Neely continued, “This organization has been blessed with Bobby Orr , Brad Park , Ray Bourque  and now we have Chara,” Neely said. “He’s a little different player than those guys that I mentioned. I don’t know if Z really gets the recognition about what he means, not only to the team, but obviously the defensive corps. He’s so difficult to play against.”
As to whether Chara was among the top defensemen in the league, Neely said, “He’s certainly up, there’s no question. You can put him up there with anybody in the league. From a defensive standpoint, I think he’s the best.”
“We’re not disappointed with the way Tim Thomas has played, let’s be honest,” Neely said. “He’s played extremely well. We know what we have in Tuukka and it’s nice to see Tim rebound from the injury that he had a little bit of an off-year that he had. To have co-number one’s, if you will, it’s a good position for us to be in. Over the course of the year it usually fleshes itself out where somebody ends up playing and taking over that role. Whether that happens or not this year, or when it happens, who’s to say.”
Here is some more of the interview, as transcribed by Brandon Lawrence:
How was the “European Vacation?”
[The trip to Prague] was interesting; I think it was great for our club. We were still in camp, the break camp, and kind of be together as a group and really spend so much time together and focus on hockey and not have as many distractions. I thought it was really good.
Once you picked Tyler Seguin in the draft, what sort of expectations did you have for him?
Well, you have to be careful with expectations for an 18-year old, regardless of where he goes in the draft. You know, some can adapt quicker than others, some have the size and strength of an NHL  player, some don’t. You know, with Tyler, we’re taking him very slow; we’re being very cautious with him. We’re certainly in a different position than most second overall picks would be in – they generally are on a team that, you know, maybe isn’t as deep as what we currently have, and are expected to do so much more in their rookie year. So we’re able to kind of have him ease into this league and, you know, get comfortable, learn a little bit more on the defensive side. So we expect him to, you know, to get better and better obviously as time goes on.
In a perfect world, if you had a healthier roster, would you be more comfortable letting an 18-year old learn the NHL at a position other than center?
Well, it’s something we certainly talked about. You know, from a defensive standpoint, it’s a little easier for the zone coverage for a winger than it is a center man. You’ve got to come down a little deeper, you’ve got to focus a little bit more on, you know, on that area of the ice where, the wingers it’s really the primary responsibility, is that D. They’ve got to make sure that they don’t slip by you and to get pucks out. So, but one thing that the coaching staff has done right from the get-go, knowing that, you know, the best place for him, considering our lineup, was going to be center, was to really work hard with him and do a lot of video, and he’s, you know, he’s embraced that.
What do you think the toughest part about transitioning to the NHL is, especially for an 18-year old?
It’s really the speed of the game – the way things happen so much quicker. The players are on top of you quicker, you have to get rid of the puck quicker, you have to make faster decisions, you know, especially when you’re a superstar in juniors, for example. You know, you control the plays so much more, you control the puck so much more, you’re able to, you know, do things that, you know, a lot of the other players aren’t able to do. And you may be able to do them at a different speed than them, but, you know, when you get to the NHL, everybody is much quicker and faster, and the other thing is, obviously, is size and strength. You know, you’re talking about playing against, you know, some 30, 35-year old men. You know, when you’re an 18-year old, you certainly notice a difference out there for size and strength.
While you were in Europe, you got Patrice Bergeron  and Zdeno Chara signed to contract extensions. Why seven years for Zdeno Chara?
Well, it’s one of those things where you started negotiations and each side presents what they’re hoping to get done, and hope it to happen, and it was very important for Zdeno to look at finishing his career in Boston. And, you know, we obviously, you know, had to take a long, hard look at, you know, the seven years, and where will he be, if he remains healthy, which, you know, he has been for the most part for his career, especially here in Boston; he hasn’t really missed too many games. You know, we look at where will he be, you know, in three, four, five years, six years from now, and we still feel with the way he works out, the way he’s so dedicated for his conditioning, the size and strength of this man, you know, he’s going to be a player that other teams will still not enjoy playing against. And that’s one of the things that I want to stress with Chara. I mean, this organization has been blessed with like Bobby Orr, Brad Park, Ray Bourque, and now we have Chara. And he’s a little different player than those three guys I mentioned, and, you know, I don’t know if he really gets the recognition about what he means, not only to the team, but obviously the defensive core. You know, he’s just so difficult to play against, and it’s not a lot of fun. I look at, you know, just his size and strength and his reach and, you know, you think you’ve got him beat, and all of a sudden, here comes this long reach with this long stick and pokes the puck away. Just from my perspective and being a former player, it would frustrate the heck out of me to play against this guy, and we feel like, you know, he will still be difficult to play against.