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Proposed blindside hit ban goes through 06.25.10 at 2:46 pm ET
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Anyone upset with the way the whole Marc Savard/Matt Cooke/Colin Campbell situation was handled last season can rest easy, as the NHL Board of Governors approved a ban on blindside blows to the head. Players who commit lateral blindside hits, such as Cooke’s March 7 hit on Savard, now can be given a five-minute major and a game misconduct. If a player racks up two game misconducts for blindside hits to the head, he will automatically be suspended for the next game.

The proposed rule change had been drawn up last week by the NHL’s competition committee. Campbell, the senior vice president and director of hockey operations, fell under heavy criticism in March when he decreed that Cooke had technically not done anything on the hit of Savard to warrant a suspension. Later that month, the general managers called for a revised rule, which now has been passed.

The actual language of the rule outlaws “lateral or blindside hits to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principle point of contact.”

Though stricter punishment is now in place, Bruins president Cam Neely is still hesitant to treat the problem as being solved.

‘€œThe one concern that I have is that it’€™s still going to be a tough rule to call,’€ Neely told WEEI.com’s Graig Woodburn on Thursday. ‘€œI don’€™t know if you’€™re going to get everyone happy. That’€™s the problem.’€

Neely, whose playing career was cut short due to injury, can appreciate that though players may still be at risk, the initiative taken to cut down on risk is a step in the right direction.

‘€œI think it’€™s going to be tough for the referee in that split second to really judge the call. Like all new rules, there’€™s going to be some questions,’€ he said. ‘€œAt least there is an attempt to get [hits to the head] out of the game.”

Read More: Cam Neely, Marc Savard, Matt Cooke,
Neely: ‘We’re waiting like everyone else’ 06.24.10 at 10:08 pm ET
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New Bruins president Cam Neely was taking care of business at the NHL Board of Governors meeting in Los Angeles on Thursday, but he now has to play a waiting game like everyone else.

While the Board of Governors approved a rule change providing a five-minute penalty for a blindside hit to the head ‘€” such as that which sidelined Bruins center Marc Savard this season ‘€” Neely emerged from Thursday’€™s meeting focused on Friday’€™s draft in which the Bruins have the second overall pick.

The Edmonton Oilers have the first pick in the draft, and with it the possibility of trading down if the player they would select is different than the player the Bruins want. Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin are considered locks to be selected with the top two picks, but so far, the Oilers have not indicated which player they prefer.

There has been much speculation the Oilers plan to take Hall and the Bruins would then choose Seguin, but nothing is definite at this point.

‘€œEdmonton still hasn’€™t really said anything, so nothing is etched [in stone]. We’€™re still waiting like everyone else,’€ said Neely, who was named as the Bruins President on June 16.

Neely had attended Board of Governors meetings before, but was doing so his new capacity for the firs time on Thursday.

‘€œA lot of the stuff I’€™ve been doing has not really changed that much,’€ said Neely. ‘€œObviously, a little more responsibility now, which is OK. I’€™m looking forward to the challenge.’€

Among his first duties at the Board of Governors meeting was assessing the blindside hit rule approved Thursday.

‘€œThe one concern that I have is that it’€™s still going to be a tough rule to call,’€ Neely said. ‘€œI don’€™t know if you’€™re going to get everyone happy. That’€™s the problem.’€

In response to a question regarding the Matt Cooke hit on Savard, which caused Savard to incur a significant concussion, Neely said that the hit would be illegal under the new rule, which he generally favors.

‘€œI think it’€™s going to be tough for the referee in that split second to really judge the call. Like all new rules, there’€™s going to be some questions,’€ he said. ‘€œAt least there is an attempt to get [hits to the head] out of the game. ‘€œ

Read More: Cam Neely, Marc Savard, Matt Cooke, Taylor Hall
Neely to be named Bruins president 06.15.10 at 4:57 pm ET
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WEEI has confirmed a report that the Bruins, who are set to hold a press conference Wednesday at 2 p.m., will name current vice president Cam Neely president of the club. Neely, who has been a part of the team’s front office since September of 2007, had 590 points in 10 seasons with the Bruins. The story was first reported by Comcast SportsNet.

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Neely on The Big Show: ‘It’s been a rough few days’ 05.17.10 at 8:59 pm ET
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Hockey Hall of Famer and Bruins vice president Cam Neely called in to The Big Show on Monday afternoon to discuss the aftermath of the Bruins’€™ heartbreaking Eastern Conference semifinal loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and talk about the future of the club with the NHL draft, free agency and other big personnel decisions coming up this offseason.

‘€œWe’€™re going to look top to bottom,’€ Neely said. ‘€œObviously, when you don’€™t win the last game of the hockey season, you have to improve your club, so we’€™re looking at all ways at doing what we need to do to improve the club.’€

A transcript of that interview follows. You can listen to the entire interview on The Big Show audio on demand page.

Has the Game 7 loss hit you guys yet?

Oh, it hit hard. It hit hard on Friday night. It’€™s been a very tough few days, as you can imagine. Obviously, losing in the finals is a big deal, but this is really big, too.

Should the David Krejci injury and the return of Simon Gagne be seen as the turning point of the series, or when you’€™re up 3-0, should you win the series even when you’€™re up against those injuries?

Yeah, I think when you’€™re up 3-0 you have to find a way to close it out. Losing Krejci certainly hurt us. That was a big loss because what it did was we had to give Savard more minutes, and you know him stepping into the playoffs in the second round not in the condition the other players were, being out so long that he was. It was a big loss losing Krejci. Gagne, he came back and got some big goals for them at timely times in all of the games that he played in. But when you’€™re up 3-0, you have to find a way to close it out.

From the front office perspective, where do you start looking [players, coaches, etc.] for what went wrong with that series?

Well I think we have to look at the season as a whole, to be honest with you. The year as a whole didn’€™t go as we expected it to. Certain players didn’€™t perform to the expectations. Then, we found a way to make the playoffs and got out of the first round. Quite frankly, I don’€™t think a lot of people thought we would beat Buffalo, and we came out, played really well and were able to solve [Ryan] Miller and then get up on Philly 3-0.

So I think over the course of this next week, we’€™re going to sit down as a group and really just evaluate the whole season. I don’€™t think we should just look at it in this one little snapshot because the year as a whole didn’€™t go quite the way we had planned or expected. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bruins, Cam Neely, The Big Show,
Transcript: Bruins Media Day Press Conference 09.28.09 at 9:28 pm ET
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The Boston Bruins held their pre-season media today this morning. The session started with a press conference panel of owner Jeremy Jacobs, principal owner Charlie Jacobs, head coach Claude Julien, general manager Peter Chiarelli, and vice president Cam Neely. The transcript from the press conference is below.

Pressure to live up to last year’€™s 116 points within the sports culture of Boston?

Jeremy Jacobs: Simple answer? Yes. There is an expectation on my part and the community at large. I share the same goal, my ambition is to win a Stanley Cup and I think we have the personalities in place from management, coaching and players. So, I look for a great season and will be disappointed if there is anything less than that.

How impressed are you with the brain trust that has been put together in the front office? 

Jeremy Jacobs: I think he [Peter Chiarelli] has done a great job. We’€™ve extended our relationship and our contract and I expect that we are building on something. Every body here [the media] are all totally and justifiably critical when we stumbled at first but we got it going and stayed with it and I think the organization is working really well and I think there are personalities in place to run it.

On sending Brad Marchand and Zach Hamill down and the depth of the organization.

Chiarelli: I think both of them have had tremendous camps and I told Zach this morning that, we had talked about him playing at the rookie tournament and when some of the other guys just didn’€™t play. That was good thing that he did, you could see it in how he played in the main camp. I said that most importantly it was the work he did in the development camp, the summer camp, so you have to build on it when you go down to Providence. I told him he had a good camp. I told him he has to work on his battles when he goes down low and I thought the speed caught up to him a little bit at the end.

When I talked to Brad I told him that he had a very good camp and that he was on the right track and while his game is always simple, sometimes down in Providence it tended to get a little complicated and we tried to fix that and he tried to fix it during the camp. So, two young kids, both speak well for the future.

Those guys and the guys we assigned down on Saturday. I like our depth here. It is in different sorts, it’€™s not just a finesse player here or something but players that can fill in different capacities. 

On health situation at the start of the year.

Chiarelli: As of today, I haven’€™t talked to the training staff, but as of today I believe we will be pretty healthy at the start of the year unless something were to happen between now and then. You hear of a lot of these teams with groins and hips and, you know, it was a condensed training camp this year and we had maybe one more game than maybe we wanted to. So, I think Claude [Julien] can speak to this, but I think the off day yesterday was good and I think we will get some productive work in between now and the start of the year.

On having first five games at home.

Julien: Well, first of all I think the first part of the season is probably more important no matter whether you are on the home or on the road than most people think and it’€™s been brought to our attention every year that teams in good shape on Thanksgiving are usually the teams that end up in the playoffs. So, we are aware of that and the important-cy of getting off to a good start but even more so this year in front of our fans. No doubt the first five games in front of our fans will be crucial in their minds.

Filling Phil Kessel‘€™s Shoes.

Julien: We are confident with the team that we have here, no doubt. We have Marco Sturm back and healthy so, as a group we are a strong team. We fell stronger as well with some young guys having matured and Marco Sturm in as I mentioned he was out most of last year. David Krejci is ahead of the curve right now and we’€™re hopefully looking forward to seeing him in the opener. All in all I think our team is in great shape. Tuuka Rask is going to be a great goaltender to support Tim [Thomas].

We’€™re very confident and I think this Kessel issue for us is in the past and we’€™re moving forward. 

Addition of ECHL Redding team helping the organization.

Chiarelli: We will providing some players there as those who won’€™t be on Providence. So, anytime you can expand your organization depth wise it’€™s going to help in the long run. I think we are probably going to provide two or three players there, so, it is a good addition. The last few years we have had east coast affiliates and I think they are affiliated with a couple other teams so they have good staff there and good for the development of our young guys.

On what the race for the conference will look like.

Julien: I am not one to look at these situations as a whole and just sit there and say that we have to be at the top. I think we have to work our way to the top, just like we did last year. There is nothing different except that the challenge will be bigger. There is more respect towards our team this year so obviously there are teams around our conference who are certainly improved. Philadelphia is one of those teams with [Chris] Pronger on the back end, they are certainly going to be a better team. I don’€™t think I am going to spend all my energy worrying about what’€™s on the outside. I think it’€™s important to worry about your back yard and for me it is about the preparation of our team. I have said all along that if teams want to beat us, they are going to have to adapt to us, because we are not going to adapt to others. We play our style of game and we feel confident with it and we will go forward with it as well.

Patrice Bergeron has an extra bounce to his skates this pre-season?

Julien: I think Patrice has taken off where he left off last year. You know, he went through a lot and we were patient and helped him along the way to find his game again but what he went through is something that you don’€™t want to see again and I think he had a great second half and even the playoffs. I have mentioned that before, he was one of our best forwards in the series. I think he was excited about it when he left here last year and is excited about coming back and I think that is a continuation of what you saw last year.

For someone who has played in the finals twice, what does this team need to do to reach that mark?

Neely: We just need to learn from last year. As a player you learn from the experiences you go through. I think when we got to the finals in 1988 it was the first time for a lot of us to be in the finals and I think a lot of us, including myself, were thrilled to be in the finals. Then, in ‘€™90, we understood what happened in ‘€™88 and we don’€™t look at it like we are excited to be in the finals. You have to remember two years ago, for a lot of our players it was their first time being in the playoffs and a lot of our key players, it was the first time for them. So, the learned from that series and took it a little bit further last year and what I always have these guys try to remember is how it felt to win those games and how it felt to lose that final game and you can learn from that. I think we have a lot of guys that know we should have gone a little deeper than we did and I think they’€™re hungry to get back to that challenge to go a little deeper.

Will the team be actively searching the waiver wire as the league wide roster cut deadline looms? 

Chiarelli: Waiver acquisition that we’€™d look at? You basically react to that. You have a general idea of who is going to be on and we will look at who is on today. We will see who is up there and I suspect we will see some activity as far as trading players, for teams that are under cap crunches. So, I will be fielding some calls but I don’€™t anticipate anything happening.

On Versus and Direct TV customers not seeing opening night.

Jeremy Jacobs: I think you are right, it doesn’€™t look good. The commissioner and everybody in the league office is doing what they can do but the situation is not within our control. We know how unhappy the whole hockey world is. I think the best thing is that everybody should be put on notice that if they want to watch our game with what the circumstances are, if they want to watch our game get to a location where they can see it from. Right now it does not look good to be broadcast. They are moving at glacial speed.

Giving Sturm a try out on the top line with Savard considering how the speedy Kessel played there. 

Julien: We’€™d certainly like, to a certain extent, put some speed again on that wing and Marc is good at finding those guys so we will give those guys a try. Like I mentioned through training camp there is nothing carved in stone. We are going to put the best lines together as we can possibly find and if that means tweaking them and moving them around we will until we find the right combination. I think right now it is worth having a look at and Marco has played the off wing before and he feels comfortable there as well so, again, there is a guy who hasn’€™t played in a while so we have to take that into consideration whether he’€™s on top of his game or whether he is trying to find it again.

With the stable situations in the front office and on the ice, what are the tweaking points that could be made during the season?

Chiarelli: Structurally I do not foresee anything. I mean, we always exchange ideas and philosophies where we hope to improve the communication between the management, the coaching staff and the team. We always look to improve. I can’€™t tell you anything that we haven’€™t told you already, I know there are some themes that Claude and I have talked about that we want to impress on the team all year. Besides that, I am happy where we are at. We always look to improve but there will nothing really significant from within the management group.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Cam Neely, Charlie Jacobs, Claude Julien
Neely: A Pronger/Kessel deal “was not on the table” 03.05.09 at 2:55 am ET
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Bruins Vice-President Cam Neely said that a much-rumored trade with the Anaheim Ducks — that would have sent a package including 21-year-old sniper Phil Kessel, defenseman Mark Stuart, first round pick Joe Colborne and a draft pick to the Ducks in exchange for defenseman Chris Pronger — was “not on the the table” prior to Wednesday’s trade deadline.

“We couldn’t gut our lineup to add a player that we thought was going to help us, and then take away in another area it was going to hurt us,” said Neely during a Wednesday interview with the Big Show. “It didn’t make sense. We have a very young group of players. Even though we feel like we have a good opportunity this year, we feel like we have good opportunities next year and the year after with our core group of guys. We were very cautious about the players that we weren’t going to give up.

“We understand other teams. We’d ask and it makes sense for other teams to ask for our best players in return,” added Neely.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Cam Neely, Chris Pronger, Phil Kessel
Neely with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman 12.12.08 at 9:14 pm ET
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The resurgence of the Bruins has led to plenty of attention from the national media, and Boston Bruins Vice-President Cam Neely has been one of the up-front-and-center voices and faces helping to promote the team. Neely was the guest of Bill Clement and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman during the “NHL Hour” on XM Radio and NHL.com this week. Here’s some thoughts from Neely about a host of different Bruins and NHL-related issues along with an admission that center Patrice Bergeron is still working up the form he showed prior to last season’s concussion.

You retired in 1996 and then didn’t formally get back involved into the Bruins front office until 11 years later…what were you doing all that time? CN: I was getting away from the game. I’ve got to tell you, and I know you’ve heard this from other athletes — and not just hockey players — but when it’s not your decision to retire it’s very difficult to be around the game when you feel like you can still play. Once I finally got to an age where I felt like — even if I was healthy — I wouldn’t be able to play…it got easier.

How long did it take you to recover? CN: Ah…from not playing? It probably about five years anyways of having that feeling that you wanted to get back out on the ice and play. It was difficult to leave the game. But I’m thrilled now to be a part of the game again and especially back in Boston. 

Most people wouldn’t remember that you were drafted by Vancouver. When they think of you they think of the Boston Bruins. CN: Yeah, they really do. I was fortunate enough to have 10 fairly good years, although some of them were riddled with injuries. I certainly am remember as being a Bruin, no question.

What’s it like to be a part of the Boston sports scene that’s had so much success over the last few years? CN:It’s obviously been a lot of fun. You become a fans of a lot of the local teams — I’ve been living in Boston now for over 20 years — and you become friendly with some of the players on the teams and follow their success. It’s been great because you know, Boston, it’s a great sports city and the fans really support all the teams and hopefully we’re next, Gary.

Let’s talk about being next. The Bruins are having a tremendous amount of success for the first time in recent years. What do you attribute that to? CN: Well, a lot of his to do with our depth. We have great depth this year and the development of our young players have probably accelerated a little more quickly than we first anticipated. We have a fantastic coaching, and last year they came in and they really needed to shore up the defensive end of things and cut down the goals against. And they were really able to do that.

This year we needed to focus on how we were going to get more offense, and the growth of our young players has really helped. Also with implementing how to create more offense from defenseman, that’s helped as well. We have a pretty good plan in place, not just for this year but also for the foreseeable future.

Claude Julien as coach. What is the secret formula he’s using? CN:Well, the thing that I really like about Claude — and I look at this from a player’s perspective — is that there really is no gray area with him. As a player, you have to respect that it’s black and white and he demands a certain level of commitment and work ethic from each player. And it goes down from the top guy on the team to the 23rd player.

This is what he expects and this is what he demands, and if you don’t give it to him you’re going to hear about it. But if you do give it to him then you’re going to be rewarded. I think any player would respect that kind of coach.

Has Bergeron made the difference in coming back, or has it been a matter of everything really coming together for the Bruins? CN:I think it’s a combination of everything, Gary. Obviously Bergeron helps because he’s such a good two-way player, and he’s only going to get better. He hasn’t really found his stride yet, if you will, but what he does is really give us that much more strength down the middle. We’ve got four good centers in Savard, Bergeron, Krejci and Yelle on our forth line.

When you’re able to roll out four lines like Claude likes to do and three of those lines are gifted offensively — and the fourth can chip in offensively as well for us and they generally carry the play of other team’s fourth lines — we have four lines we can roll which is a nice luxury.

I think only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and Brett Hull have scored a better goals-per-game average over a season than you. Is there anybody on this Bruins team that reminds you of yourself? CN:Well, there’s been a number of comparisons with Milan, but I’m not a big fan of comparing one player to another. Everybody has got their own personality and skill set. I think the fact that Milan is a big, strong, tough young player and he’s playing right now with Savard and Kessel so he’s getting a lot of great opportunities. He can put the puck in the net. But he’s a guy that we really rely to play a physical game first and foremost, and he’s a guy that’s able to creat a lot of space for himself and a lot of time and space for his linemates.

I think we certainly expect him to continue to improve as its only his second year in the league, but there is some comparisons there. I wouldn’t really say it’s fair to Milan. 

Did you see much of a difference as a player as opposed to now being in management? CN: It’s certainly a much bigger difference in terms of perspective than it is in the game actually changing, although the game has changed even from 1996 until now. I know here in Boston we have some classic games on NESN and every once in a while I’ll tune in to them now and I’m just amazed at how many mistakes I made out there.

But the game is faster now, isn’t it?. CN:Yeah, the game is faster and the guys are certainly bigger and stronger. That goes with nutrition being thought about a lot more. When I was a player guys really worked out a great lot in the offseason like they do now, but a lot of it is nutrition.

There’s a lot of thought and emphasis put into what guys are eating with an emphasis on taking care of their bodies. Players are bigger coming into the game now for the most part. Even 18 or 19 year-old kids coming into the league are bigger now than they were 20 years ago.

So there’s some elements to the size of the players, and the game…the skating. The big emphasis on skating. We’ve got some big guys now — and not that there wasn’t a big emphasis on the skating before — but we’ve got some big guys that can really skate now. So the guys are improving not only at this level, but at all levels. I think a lot of it has to do with focusing on the sport much earlier to probably.

There have been a number of outstanding players recently that have become executives…really great players. Does this surprise you and do you all get together and talk about what you’re doing? CN: I’m not overly surprised, but I think it’s fantastic for the game.  I think it’s great that there are ex-players that are involved at the level that you’re talking about, Gary. I think it’s helpful for the owners to get a perspective that played at an elite level and get their perspective on the game. I think it’s only going to help the organization in having players around to pull their players aside and give them some pointers.

I think that’s only going to be beneficial. We certainly talk to each other. if you were to ask me 15 years ago if I could see myself doing this my answer would have been a quick “No.” But I’ve really enjoyed getting involved and I think it’s been a great learning experience for me so far. And I’ve had fun at the same time.

What do you do in a typical day? CN: Obviously we’ve got a lot of catch-up to do here in Boston with — not just our fan base — but also with the business side. So I get involved with a number of initiatives from the business side to reengage sponsorships and our fan base and work a great deal with Peter from the hockey operations standpoint. That’s obviously where I gravitate toward because I’m comfortable with that side of it, but I’m also enjoying learning the business side of it as well.

The Jacobs family, I think, are sometimes misunderstood in Boston. Can you talk about their passion for the Bruins and hockey because I don’t think they’re completed understood? CN

: Well, they’re probably not because not because I played here for 10 years and I wasn’t aware of it…and that’s the truth. One of the things that I have tried to do is to get Mr. Jacobs — when he is around — is to let people know that he’s in the building and that he’s around. I know it’s not his personality, but I’m surprised how much he’s involved and knows what’s going on from a day-to-day basis.

I certainly didn’t have that feeling or understanding during my time as a player, but I’ve seen it first hand and I never would have guessed it.

Sometimes when you’re quiet and behind the scenes [like Jacobs] people don’t know about you. CN: No, they don’t. And as I said earlier, I would like him to…it’s not in his makeup but I think it would be helpful and he knows how I feel about that. When you’re a player, there’s nothing better than knowing that your owner really cares about the team and winning. He does in a big way, like you said.

Did you have fond memories of doing Dumb and Dumber? CN: Well, I did enjoy it…I can tell you that. I don’t know if acting as a bit player and not knowing if you’re going to make the cut is for me. And I certainly didn’t pound down any doors trying to get any acting work. But I can tell you that it was a lot of fun…a lot of fun doing that.

Talk to people about the Can Neely Foundation and your work with the NEw England Medical Center and Neely House. CN: I lost both of my parents to cancer while I was playing hockey, and I did what most hockey players do in their situation: I decided to give back. When cancer struck my family I focused most of my time and effort toward cancer-related causes and I decided start my own charity organization so I could have a say on where the money was going to go.

What we wanted to do was help cancer patients and families. We started the Foundation in late 1994 and we’ve raised close to $17 million. We’ve averaged 91 cents out of every dollar goes directly toward the cause. We’re very passionate about trying to get as much money to the programs that we’re doing.

I don’t look at us as a bank and trying to accumulate a lot and put it toward the program. When we commit to doing a program we try to get the money as quickly as we can to that particular program. The Neely House was the first initiative that we worked on and that was opened in 1996. We’ve had over 4,000 families stay at the Neely House which is right inside the building at the Tufts Medical Center.

It shows what kind of a need there is for a facility like this and we just opened a new pediatric BMT Unit at the Floating Hospital for Children, which is a state of the art unit and facility. We’ve actually incorporated a mini-Neely House right inside the unit so that parents can be that much closer to their children. So we’re very fortunate with the support we’ve gotten over the years and — to be honest — the foundation was built on support from hockey fans in the early going.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Cam Neely, Gary Bettman, Milan Lucic
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