Cam Neely: Cooke suspension ‘sent message’
|03.23.11 at 5:44 pm ET|
Bruins president Cam Neely was a guest on The Big Show on Wednesday, and discussed a variety of topics, including the suspension of Matt Cooke and the progress of Tyler Seguin. But Neely was first asked what kind of team he feels he has with this Bruins squad. The Bruins had posted a 1-3-3 mark in the last seven games before Tuesday night’s 4-1 win over the Devils.
“What you see with our team is more the way we played last night and other games — I’m not going to say every game during that seven-game winning streak — but the Calgary game, the Vancouver game, a couple of other games, when we play as disciplined as we do, within our structure from our end out and get the goaltending we did those games that’s generally the makeup of our team,” said Neely. “Then when you see us play we have prior to last night I see it as not having the commitment and work ethic. We are a team that when we work really hard play really well.”
As for the seven-game struggle that preceded the win on Tuesday, Neely feels the large majority of blame must go to the players, and not the coaching staff.
“It falls on everybody, really, but mainly it falls on the players,” said Neely. “I’ve said this for a long time, said it when I played. You may not play well every night, but you can work hard every night. And if the work ethic isn’t there — not just in sports, but anything — the results aren’t going to be what you want. And the coach can talk, the captain can talk, but the players themselves have to be prepared to work hard. And we weren’t working as hard as we could, or should, to bring us success.
Tyler Seguin has been a healthy scratch six times this season, but his play has improved of late, even earning some time on the power play. Neely was asked if he’s been pleased with the performance of the second overall pick of the 2010 draft.
“You have to remember, this is a kid that dominated in the OHL,” Neely said of Seguin, who has 11 goals and 11 assists in 65 games this season. “The education process for him, to be able to watch the game and understand and see at the level that these guys are playing at, and how quick the game is and what you have to do to compete and battle for loose pucks. Those are all learning experiences. ‘¦ These are all things that Tyler had to learn and has learned, and will continue to learn. So it’s been nice to see his development over the last little while, now he’s shown he has the poise and patience and compete to be on the second unit of the power play. And with his hands, and skills, it’s something that we’ve hoped that he could get there and he has. He’s played much better the last couple of games and, quite frankly, the timing couldn’t be better for us.”
The NHL suspended Penguins forward Matt Cooke for the final 10 games of the regular season plus the entire first round of the playoffs on Monday, the fifth suspension in Cooke’s 12-year career. Neely felt the ruling from the NHL is a game changer when it comes to punishment for illegal hits.
“I’m not surprised at the length of suspension the league handed down,” Neely said. “Obviously Pittsburgh was one of the more vocal teams about trying to get this stuff out of the game. Cooke is a multiple offender for various things, and got suspended a number of times. Didn’t surprise me at all and I think it sent a clear message to the rest of the league that flagrant is not going to be tolerated and you are going to pay the price. The accidental hits are when you get into a gray area, but this particular hit you can tell wasn’t accidental.”