Cam Neely: Boston Sports Legend
BOSTON (CBS) – 98.5 The Sports Hub brings to you another exclusive presentation.
Cam Neely: Boston Sports Legend is a two-hour retrospective of Cam’s storied career, taking you on a journey from his draft day in 1983 all the way up to today as President of the Boston Bruins.
The wins…the losses…the devastating injuries. We hear from Cam as well as his teammates and friends to get the full scope of the story broken down into eight sections.
Part I: Cam’s Early Years & His Start In Vancouver
Cameron Michael Neely was born June 6, 1965 in Comox, British Columbia. As the son of a serviceman, Neely grew up in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan but returned to the Vancouver area later on in his childhood.
Cam Neely used to watch hockey with his father as a kid, and at the time there were really only two teams on television north of the border: the Canadiens and the Maple Leafs. Because his father was a Leafs fan, Neely naturally gravitated himself to them as well – a topic he has covered before on the Felger and Massarotti program.
Listen below to hear about Cam’s upbringing, including his time spent in youth hockey and getting drafted 9th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 1983.
Part II: Harry Sinden Brings Cam To Boston & Terry O’Reilly Coaches Him
Bruins general manager Harry Sinden didn’t get the chance to draft Cam Neely in 1983 (the Bruins held the last pick of the first round that year), but the team scout in Vancouver always raved about him, so Sinden kept a close watch on Cam early on.
Sinden discussed the draft process and what led to the trade that sent Barry Pederson to Vancouver in exchange for Neely. Cam also weighed in on what it was like playing for Bruins legend and coach Terry O’Reilly.
Part III: Cam’s First Three Years In Boston
Cam’s arrival in Boston was met with immediate success. In his first season, the right winger produced 36 goals and 36 assists and led the B’s to the postseason. However, the Bruins would lose to the Canadiens in the first round for the fourth straight season.
In the following season, Cam’s Bruins fell to the Edmonton Oilers in the Stanley Cup Finals, and in ’88-’89 the team endured yet another playoff loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
Part IV: The Bruins’ Stanley Cup Run In 1990
As Cam puts it, the 1990 Bruins team was “more seasoned” and better prepared for a playoff run than in years past.
It took the Bruins seven games to beat the New England rival Hartford Whalers, but the next two rounds were smooth sailing, beating the Canadiens in five games and the Capitals in four.
Listen below to hear Neely talk about the disappointment in losing to the Oilers for the second time in three years:
Part V: Ulf Samuelsson & The Start Of Cam Neely’s Injury Problems
Cam opens up about the physical aspect of his game, referred to as “snapability” by former teammate Lyndon Byers. Coach Mike Milbury wanted Neely to tone down that aspect of his game because the team needed his scoring on the ice.
Neely never backed down from a challenge, and no other player challenged or irritated him quite like Ulf Samuelsson. After numerous run-ins, their rivalry finally came to a head with one, seemingly innocuous hit that derailed Cam’s promising career.
Part VI: Cam’s 1991-94 Seasons
After back-to-back 50+ goal seasons, Cam’s body was starting to break down. His ’91-’92 season didn’t begin until January, and ended just three weeks later after nine goals in nine games.
He wasn’t much healthier the following season, playing in only thirteen games. In those two years, Cam totaled 20 goals in 22 games, so it wasn’t a matter of if he could still play or not.
He began the ’93-’94 season on time, and on fire. Neely scored 50 goals that year in just 49 games. Neely’s Bruins were on track to make the playoffs, but his postseason hopes would again be dashed after tearing his MCL against the New Jersey Devils during a game in late March.
Part VII: Cam’s Retirement & The Establishment Of The Cam Neely Foundation
Cam was able to tolerate the knee injuries he sustained, but it was a degenerating hip injury that caused him to retire at age 31.
Neely’s playing career in Boston was done, but he wasn’t done with the city, and the city wasn’t done with him. Having lost both of his parents to cancer, Cam gave back to the community and began the Cam Neely Foundation For Cancer Care in memory of his parents.
The Neely House opened in 1997 and provides accommodations for families of cancer patients at Tufts Medical Center.
Listen below to hear Cam’s retirement speech, as well as the motivation to start ‘The Neely House’:
Part VIII: Cam’s Induction Into The Hockey Hall Of Fame
Cam may have been robbed of an Oscar for his role as “Seabass” in Dumb & Dumber, but in 2005 he was deservedly honored for his other profession.
Harry Sinden went to bat for Cam’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame during the nomination process, saying that the NHL had never seen a player of his style score 50 goals. Despite his injury-shortened career, his impact on the game of hockey is without question.
Listen below to hear Cam’s hall of fame speech, as well as his decision to enter the Bruins front office: