BOSTON (CBS) — Boston Bruins president Cam Neely joined Felger & Mazz, and they had a lot to discuss after missing last week’s chat.
Right off the bat, Neely was asked for his thoughts on potential changes to overtime in the NHL. Neely said he’s a proponent of going to 3-on-3 instead of a shootout.
“I’ve never really liked the shootout. I don’t like that that’s how you decide a team sport,” Neely said. “I think there would be plenty of scoring opportunities 3-on-3, and it would still feel like it’s more of a team contribution as opposed to an individual skill contest.”
Neely said the details — whether to clean the ice, if a shootout would follow a scoreless 3-on-3 period — would have to get ironed out, but he’d rather see the game decided from a hockey player rather than a shootout.
Neely was then asked for his thoughts on fighting’s future in the game. Neely made his living back in the day using his fists sometimes as often as his forehand, and while he strongly believes fighting plays a significant role in the sport, he doesn’t like it in every variety.
“I don’t like staged fighting,” Neely said. “I don’t like fighting when someone lays someone out with a good hard clean check, and all of a sudden, someone’s coming over to drop the gloves. I think that’s ridiculous. From my perspective, it used to be, ‘OK, someone laid me out. Let me take his number and try to lay him out down the road.’
“But I strongly believe that fighting is a part of our game that needs to exist,” Neely added. “I know a lot of media folk feel otherwise, but with two referees and two linesmen – which is a lot out there – [they’re] still going to miss a lot of things. And a lot of it is stick work. If there’s no real concern about payback other than more stick work, I think if you could eliminate as much stick work as possible, because there’s going to be a concern of someone saying, ‘OK, you want to chop me, you want to hack me, you want to stick me, it’s time to pay up,’ so to speak.”
Neely said the type of player that can intimidate others while still contributing in other ways is a unique skill set that allows certain players to be in the league.
“There’s a skill-set of being able to intimidate a player with your physical presence, and also if you cross the line with that player, look out,” Neely said. “I think there’s a lot of people that really like it in the game, for those reasons that I shared. And they don’t like it in the game for the reasons that I don’t like it in the game. And I think that’s coming out of the sport, which it should. But two guys that have a settle to square up, I don’t see a need to take that out of the game just yet.”
Neely had little comment on Tyler Seguin’s insistence last week that he was “accused” more than he was helped by the Bruins organization, saying Seguin had the right to any opinions he holds.
“Listen, I’ve been traded,” Neely said, referencing his hometown Canucks trading him in 1986.” It’s not fun being traded. You always have to look at where you got traded from and you ask yourself why. As I’ve said many times, Tyler’s got all kinds of skill and he’s going to have a great career. But anything he said in the interview with Jack [Edwards] didn’t surprise me and didn’t really concern me.”
Neely also expressed no issues with Tim Thomas, whom the Bruins honored with a short video package during Thomas’ trip to Boston last week with the Panthers.
As for the “Behind The B” television show exposing Claude Julien’s fiery side, Neely said he wasn’t surprised to see the head coach try to inspire his team with some strong words between periods.
“Claude does a fantastic job of controlling his emotions on the bench. That’s why that was surprising for a lot of people, because he’s not very animated on the bench and he really keeps his emotions in check and I think that helps on the bench,” Neely said. “He’s got a pretty good pulse of what’s going on with the team and obviously in the locker room. He’s not just calm and cool and collected all the time. That’s a side of Claude that I think a lot of coaches have. He’s just not as animated on the bench, and I think that’s a good thing because I think that could be a distraction.”
Neely, a believer that it’s important to be sitting in a playoff spot by the time Thanksgiving comes around, said that the team has done a solid job of turning things around after hitting a rough stretch.
“There’s a lot to be said for being in the playoff picture by U.S. Thanksgiving. Our guys turned it around a little bit, playing like we know they can play,” he said. “We want to keep doing what we’re doing and pile up some wins. But yeah, it’s nice to be where we’re at right now.”