Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Neely looks to win Cup 'in a suit'

Categories: VAN vs. BOS

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Bruins president Cam Neely, seen in late 2010, didn't get the chance to lift the Stanley Cup in the 1990 final against Edmonton. (Stephen Savoia/Associated Press) Bruins president Cam Neely, seen in late 2010, didn't get the chance to lift the Stanley Cup in the 1990 final against Edmonton. (Stephen Savoia/Associated Press)

As a player, Cam Neely came closest to winning the Cup in 1990. That year, the Bruins advanced to the final against Edmonton. Neely and the Bruins came up short against the Oilers. Until now, they hadn't returned to the Cup since then.

Neely didn't lift the Cup 21 years ago. Now, the Bruins president has another crack.

"It would be by far the next best thing. There's no question. Absolutely no question," Neely said. "When you're a player, your goal is to make the NHL. Once you get in the league, you want to win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately I didn't have a chance to do it in a uniform. Hopefully I can do it in a suit."

In September 2007, the Bruins hired Neely as vice president. Neely spent his time between hockey operations and the business side. On July 16, 2010, Neely was promoted to president. General manager Peter Chiarelli remains in charge of hockey operations. But Neely must ultimately give his approval on major decisions. Neely has become a trusted part of Chiarelli's inner circle, which includes assistant GMs Jim Benning and Don Sweeney and director of player personnel Scott Bradley.

It was Bart Bradley, Scott Bradley's father, who was instrumental in bringing Neely to Boston. Bart Bradley was a former Bruins scout based in British Columbia. Bradley tipped off then-GM Harry Sinden about Neely. On June 6, 1986, the Bruins acquired Neely and a 1987 first-round pick (Glen Wesley) from Vancouver for Barry Pederson.

"He really pushed Harry Sinden to acquire me in that deal with Barry," Neely said. "Unfortunately in my last year in Vancouver, I just didn't really play all that much. It felt like my career was going backward. Things worked out on that trade in June for me."

The power play story

The Vancouver power play enters Game 1 high on confidence. During the playoffs, the Canucks have scored on 28.3 per cent of its power plays. The first unit features puck-moving defensemen Alexander Edler and Christian Ehrhoff at the points, Henrik and Daniel Sedin working their magic down low, and Ryan Kesler stationed in the slot as the net-front presence.

Then there's Boston's so-called man-advantage.

The Bruins are stumbling along at an 8.2 per cent clip. Things got so bad in the Eastern Conference final that the coaching staff moved Zdeno Chara and his triple-digit boomer off the point to the front of the net.

Chara will be back in front tonight on the No. 1 power-play unit. The rest of the first unit will feature Tomas Kaberle and Dennis Seidenberg at the points. David Krejci will work the left-side half-wall, while Nathan Horton will be in the high slot and in the left corner.

"We made some adjustments late in the last series and put Zdeno up front," Claude Julien said. "We certainly made some little tweaks here and there, hoping to turn the corner on that. At the beginning of the playoffs, we felt like if we can't get out power play going, we're in big trouble. But here we are in the finals, so we've managed to survive.

"We understand that if the power play doesn't get going, you're certainly playing with fire. Having said that, I think it's going to be important for us to be extremely disciplined. Try and minimize the penalties we take because they do have a good power play. At the same time, your penalty killers are going to have to do a great job. We've been able to balance that throughout, especially in the last series with Tampa Bay, who had a really good power play coming in. Our special teams somehow managed to stay pretty close until Game 6 when they broke through."

During practice yesterday at Rogers Arena, Chara battled in front with Gregory Campbell, who was playing the part of down-low penalty killer. Dennis Seidenberg hammered a one-timer that went through Chara's screen, bounced off Campbell, and caromed past Tim Thomas. Such are the goals the Bruins will be seeking with Chara in front.

"It will be tough to deal with him there," Vancouver defender Dan Hamhuis said. "Probably not going to move him out of there. Just try to get to pucks before he can and not allow him to tip them."

The Bruins hadn't finalized their second unit as of yesterday. Andrew Ference and Patrice Bergeron were at the points, with Mark Recchi working down low. Michael Ryder rotated with Tyler Seguin, while Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley also took turns for each other.

"It would be by far the next best thing. There's no question. Absolutely no question," Neely said.

Expected Bruins lineup

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Mark Recchi
Michael Ryder-Chris Kelly-Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Rich Peverley

Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference-Johnny Boychuk
Tomas Kaberle-Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas