Less than 24 hours after the Bruins’ season came to a screeching halt with a Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, team president Cam Neely joined Felger and Massarotti for his final interview of the year.
By many measures — making the playoffs, winning the Presidents’ Trophy, beating the Red Wings in five games — the Bruins’ season was a success. But based on the ending, Neely had a hard time answering whether the season was a success or a failure.
“I think it’s a combination. You always want to win the last game of the season, and we didn’t accomplish that,” Neely said. “I feel like we had a team to go deeper than we did, so in that regard, it’s not as successful as we all would have liked.”
Michael Felger asked Neely if he believes the Bruins lost to a better team.
“I think they played better,” Neely said. “And we could have played better.”
Neely said the problem this series is that the Bruins, for reasons unknown, were unable to get scoring contributions from all four lines.
“You’ve got to give Montreal credit. They played well. We knew it was going to be a tough series and we knew they had a great goaltender,” Neely said. “From my perspective, I think we could have played better. I think everybody in that locker room thinks they could have played better. That’s the frustrating part. It’s a situation where as well as Montreal played, I think we can look at and say we didn’t play as well as we could have, and it might have been a different outcome if that were the case.
“It’s frustrating for everybody because I think everybody saw what the potential was with this team,” Neely added. “When you get bounced earlier than you’d like to or expect to, it’s a tough pill to swallow.”
Given the weaknesses and inexperience on defense, Neely was asked if he has any regrets from the trade deadline, when the Bruins made minor acquisitions (Andrej Meszaros, Corey Potter).
“No, because in all honesty, I know it’s hard for people to believe, but if you take a look at the transactions that took place, there wasn’t someone to stick into your No. 3 or 4 slot on defense that was available. It just wasn’t there,” Neely said. “As much as we missed Dennis [Seidenberg] in a big way, that’ s not the reason why we lost the series.”
Given the postgame side-story of Dale Weise complaining about Milan Lucic threatening him in the handshake line, Neely said he doesn’t support Lucic’s behavior but also doesn’t think it’s a big deal or uncommon.
“What I do know is one team is miserable and the other is happy and excited,” Neely said. “Emotions are raw, you get in the line, you shake hands, and if there’s a particular battle you may have had with a player for seven straight games, maybe some of the things that you didn’t like that happened, comments are made. And that is not new. That is not new. I think if you go back in the history of handshakes, there are comments that have been said, I’m sure.”
As for whether comments made on the ice should stay on the ice, Neely said, “I don’t really … like, I don’t know the point — I’m not defending Milan — but I don’t understand the point of [Weise] bringing it up.”
Neely refused to announce any injuries on the roster, instead saying the team needs to accept the loss and move on the best way possible.
“Listen, guys, you’re not going to go down the roster here. We didn’t play well enough to win,” Neely said. “Now it’s our job to sit back and dissect this and see what we can do to correct problems that we feel we have.”