Boston Bruins president Cam Neely joined Felger & Mazz on Tuesday as the Bruins continue their long wait to get the Eastern Conference finals started in Pittsburgh.
While fans and players are both eager to see the series start, Neely said the break is beneficial for a team this time of year.
“I think it’s helpful for us,” Neely said. “We had a longer first round than we probably would have liked, and we’re getting some rest now and getting some of the guys with the little bumps and bruises feeling better going into our next series here.”
As for that series, Neely admitted that the thought of the Penguins brings back some painful memories from his playing career.
“Pittsburgh is not one of my favorite cities,” Neely said. “We lost to them in two conference finals. … I’m just happy they’re not in the Igloo anymore.”
The city of Pittsburgh also brings up a variety of memories for Jaromir Jagr, and while Neely said he hasn’t spoken to Jagr about his history there, the veteran winger is likely looking forward to the opportunity.
“I’m sure he’s excited about playing. He’s got a lot of pride. He certainly wants to contribute as much as he can and I know he’d like to contribute more,” Neely said of Jagr. “I think he’s excited about this series going back to where his career started.”
Felger also asked Neely which member of the Bruins front office most wanted to sign Torey Krug last year. Neely said there are many members of the organization who hoped to sign the defenseman out of Michigan State, but assistant general manager Don Sweeney may have played a special role in recruiting Krug.
“For reasons that Torey could probably give you better than me, he felt like this was an organization he would get an opportunity to play in,” Neely said of Krug. “Don Sweeney probably played a role in that. He works a lot with our Providence team and development camps, he puts all of that together. Don was a smaller defenseman in this game and played over 1,000 games in the NHL, so I know Don’s talked to him a ton about what it takes to play in this league if you’re not 6-2 or 6-4.
“You can spread the credit throughout a number of people in the organization, but I know Don spends a lot of time down there and works a lot, and I think the defensemen can certainly relate to someone like Don as well.”
Felger also asked about the Jarome Iginla fiasco from the trade deadline, when Iginla seemingly rejected a trade to Boston in favor of going to Pittsburgh.
Neely said players may very well have taken that personally, but they can’t afford to let that throw off their focus in this series.
“I’m sure you would, why wouldn’t you? What I’m saying is, we’re focused on the team as a whole. We can’t focus on just one player,” Neely said of the players taking it personally. “We’ve kind of moved on from that. It was frustrating but we were able to get a player that we really like and think has helped get our team to the conference finals,” Neely said.
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