BOSTON (CBS) — On the one hand, Cam Neely believes the 2015-16 Boston Bruins were good enough to make the postseason. On the other hand, he believes they have a long way to go before they are the team they are supposed to be.
The Bruins president joined Felger & Massarotti on Thursday afternoon to wrap up a disappointing season, one that ended with another late-season slump that left the team on the golf course for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Neely explained why he doesn’t agree with the outside assessment that his roster was not good enough to make the postseason.
“Well, when you’re in the playoffs pretty much the bulk of the season, and then the final 13 games we find out all we needed was another eight points and we couldn’t pull it off, I don’t know, I would agree with them if we were out of the playoff picture all year and we weren’t even close to the playoffs,” Neely said early in the interview. “But when you’re that close, you should be able to close and get those points, in my opinion.”
At the end of the interview, Neely made it clear that just being a fringe playoff team is not what he thinks the team’s potential should be.
“Well we’ve got a lot of work to do this offseason,” Neely said. “We’ve got to improve our club, and there’s going to be 29 other teams trying to do the same thing. So it’s important for us to do what we can do to improve our club in the areas that we talked about that need some upgrades.”
As to how the Bruins accomplish that goal, Neely stressed the importance of drafting well and developing young players.
“We know exactly where our players are and their careers and we feel we have a pretty good idea of how many good years they have left,” Neely said. “We talked about how do we supplement those players with players who can help us win a Cup? And yeah, it’s a challenge. You draft, you develop, you hope that kids are ready to step in and contribute. And you’re seeing it right now. Most teams have that, that are playing right now, they have some young kids that are contributing. And we certainly are going to need that.
“In today’s game especially whit the cap not moving that much, you’re going to have to implement some young entry-level players that can hopefully help your team,” Neely added. “Proper drafting, proper development plays a major role. And we’re trying to get ourselves in a position where it’s not just a shorter window where we have success.”
As to the perception that Neely didn’t accept accountability in his press conference with the Jeremy and Charlie Jacobs on Wednesday, Neely seemed to fight back a little bit, saying the people in charge know who they can hold accountable.
“Do I need to stand up and pound my chest, be like a lot of others that say ‘It’s all me!’ Do I need to wear a C on my suit jacket?” Neely said. “I’m all about ‘let’s have discussions, let’s be collaborative.’ But ultimately, ownership looks at me. … Everybody in the Bruins organization knows who’s in charge, and that’s what matters to me. If other people are unsure, then I can stand on a mountain and yell it, I guess. As long as the people that work for the team know who it is, that’s all that matters for me.”
Neely was, clearly, agitated not only by missing the playoffs for a second straight year but for facing unpleasant questions for the second straight day.
“I’m angry. First of all, I hate missing playoff hockey. Obviously, I bear some responsibility for that,” Neely said. “I understand that you all have a job to do but the questions sometimes are aggravating because it’s more about stirring the pot than finding out [expletive] information.”
Listen to the full conversation, which covered a wide range of topics and lasted more than 17 minutes, below: