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Cam Neely discusses Bruins’ future at final press conference of 2011-12 season

05.03.12 at 5:17 pm ET
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Cam Neely addressed the state of the Bruins Thursday. (AP)

Cam Neely, Jeremy Jacobs and Charlie Jacobs held a season-ending press conference Thursday to discuss the 2011-12 season and look ahead to the future.

The calling of the press conference Wednesday was somewhat surprising, but given that Neely hadn’t spoken at last Friday’s breakup day, it seemed appropriate for the team president to meet with the media one last time this season. The trio of Neely and the Jacobs covered a variety of topics Thursday, so here’s a recap of it all.

- One common theme throughout the players at breakup day was that they had trouble getting up for the playoffs after last June’s run to the Cup finals. While Neely recognized the fatigue factor, he still feels the team is too good to lose in the first round.

“It should be unacceptable,” Neely said. “With the players we have, the talent that we have, the coaching staff we have, you can’t be accept a first-round exit. I believe that we’re a franchise that’s beyond, ‘Let’s make the playoffs,’ that’s beyond, ‘Let’s have a good showing in the first round. I think we’re beyond that. Expectations are much higher now.”

Neely said that though players spoke of their difficulty getting mentally engaged in the postseason, the team as a whole appeared to share his frustration with the first-round exit.

“What I saw was guys that looked to be disappointed,” Neely said. “When you look at all the seven games of the whole and you say, ‘Geez, we probably should be moving on,’ I think they would all agree with that. I think if they really assessed our game and their individual play, they to a person probably feel like they could have played better or could have done a little bit more to get that extra goal or that extra win that we needed. ”

- Neely agreed with Peter Chiarelli‘s sentiment that no major shakeup is needed this offseason, but that some turnover should occur. He is hopeful that free agent Chris Kelly can return.

“I think just some tweaking,” he said of the roster. “Peter and I spoke a few days after the season ended. We’re going to have more discussions as the summer progresses here, but I like the makeup of our team, I like the character of our team. I think Peter’s done a really good job of signing players before they become free agents as best he can. I think we have guys that are still going to improve. We have a young team in that regards as far as the core goes and will improve. But we know we have some areas we will look to improve and we’ll have more discussions in the offseason on how we can go about doing that.”

- Neely said that he remains satisfied with the team’s goaltending situation of Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask. The latter is a restricted free agent, and Neely said that when Rask signs his new deal — which figures to see a pay raise — there will be enough room for both players financially and when it comes to playing time.

“Well financially it shouldn’t be an issue,” Neely said. “Playing-time-wise, it’s always been they’re battling it out and the coach will end up playing who he thinks is going to give the team the best shot to win.”

- Both Claude Julien and Chiarelli still have term on their contracts, and Neely said he was pleased with the job both did this season.

“I thought they both did a great job this year,” Neely said. “Claude’s a very good coach, Peter’s a good general manager. There’s challenges at times with the way the cap is now, to try and make certain moves you’d like to make. The trade deadline is a great example of that. The offseason, July 1 is another good example of it’s a little bit more difficult dealing with the cap than it’s been pre-cap.

“I think Claude’s done a good job, I’ve seen Claude make some adjustments since he’s been here and I think it’s been good that he communicates really well with the players. There’s no gray area which as a player, I think is fantastic. You shouldn’t have a gray area and he’s done a really good job since he’s been here.”

Neely also said that there were no plans at this time to make any moves regarding the coaching staff. That obviously applies more to the assistants, as Julien’s job is obviously safe.

- After two straight postseasons of power play struggles, Neely allowed that something needs to change, but not necessarily coaching or personnel.

“We got away with [having a bad power play] last year as everybody knows,” he said. “This year, it kind of bit us in the butt. We really need to have a philosophical difference of how we look at the power play. I don’t just look at the percentage of the power play, I look at when we get power plays, what the score of the game is, what time of the game is – that’s important. Maybe more so important than what the actual percentage of the power play is.

“I think we have the personnel that we can improve on the power play. There’s some things we’ll certainly discuss in the offseason about what we can do differently with the power play. I think it’s an area that absolutely needs improvement and we will improve on it.”

- There is one more year remaining on the Bruins’ deal with Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. Charlie Jacobs said the team is determining what to use for a practice facility beyond then, with the team still considering Ristuccia. Jacobs did say that the Bruins want their practice facility to be a potential selling point for free agents, so that would suggest the team would ideally like to upgrade.

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