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On Friday afternoon, Cam Neely, current Vice President of the Boston Bruins and NHL Hall of Famer, ripped the Bruins players on WEEI’s “The Big Show”, following their 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.
Citing “a lack of passion and commitment to working hard”, Neely told host Glenn Ordway that he was disappointed with the previous night’s effort, nothing that after the two-minute mark, “it was business as usual.”
Just 1:56 into the first period of the game, Shawn Thornton forced Matt Cooke to drop his gloves in return for Cooke’s abominable hit on Marc Savard, which occurred during the teams’ previous meeting. While Thornton clearly won the fight and earned an extra 10-minute misconduct for throwing a few extra punches after Cooke had gone down to the ice, the Bruins returned to their heartless playing, failing to finish checks, control the puck, and win shots. (They went nine minutes without a shot at one point.)
In response to Ordway’s question about why the Bruins failed to play passionately, Neely replied:
“I’ve been trying to figure that out all year, Glenn, to be honest with you… I’ve said this for years, I said this when I played, I said this after I played, people expect their athletes to compete and show that they care and if they don’t win they’re OK with that as long as they compete, show that they care and work hard. I’ve heard it too many times this year and I don’t blame our fans for complaining they don’t see that compete or passion that they want to see.”
Neely brought up Aaron Ward (traded to the Carolina Hurricanes) and P.J Axelsson (not re-signed) when he mentioned a “loss of leadership and character in the locker room,” noting that recent trades by the Bruins may have replaced the talent on the ice, but not the presence off of it. While team captain Zdeno Chara did engage Michael Rupp later in the game, the Bruins still failed to muster any emotion or offense.
Neely, a former five-time All-Star, is no stranger to passion or dirty hits, especially from Pittsburgh Penguins. In Game 3 of the 1991 Prince of Wales (Eastern) Conference Finals against the Penguins, Ulf Samuelsson effectively ended the three-time fifty-goal scorer’s career with a knee-to-knee hit. The Penguins would go on to win the series and the Stanley Cup, but not before Bruins head coach Mike Milbury reminded the world of what passion and outrage looked like and what retribution – a line-up composed of rent-a-goons – used to be. (Claude Julien, check the video (here again)to see what you should have done.)
The NHL’s head disciplinarian, Colin Campbell, who failed to employ any sort of discipline device on Cooke, visited both the Bruins’ and Penguins’ locker rooms prior to the game to ensure that nothing of the sort would happen.
Of course, with these Bruins, it probably wouldn’t have made a difference if Campbell hadn’t given his little “play-nice” speech. Cam Neely agrees, too.
Glenn Ordway’s complete interview with Cam Neely is available here.