Bruins

How Cam Neely drew from '88, '90 Bruins while building current Cup team

How Cam Neely drew from '88, '90 Bruins while building current Cup team

Cam Neely hasn't forgotten his two losses in the Stanley Cup Final as a player. And he has no interest in repeating them.

Neely was on the 1988 and 1990 Boston Bruins teams that ran into the buzzsaw that was Wayne Gretzky's Edmonton Oilers. The B's were clearly overmatched -- they got swept in '88 and won one game in '90 -- but Neely apparently was taking notes he'd refer to decades later as president of the Bruins.

When asked Friday about the differences between the B's of his playing days and Boston's 2019 team, Neely pointed to the improved depth of his current squad.

"You get to be an age after you played, you’re retired, and you have these ‘what ifs,’ and there’s no question," Neely said during a press conference at TD Garden. "We look at the years ’88 and ’90, more particularly than ’88, I thought if we had a little bit more depth we might have had a better chance to win."

Neely admitted Boston's shortcomings in those two series against Edmonton motivated him and the Bruins' front office to build a roster that wouldn't suffer the same fate.

"Those are things that stick with you for sure," Neely added. "And then when you get in a position like we’re in to craft a lineup, you talk about depth and how do we get that depth."

Neely and general manager Don Sweeney have built an impressively deep Bruins squad that's gotten goals from 19 different players entering the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues.

Trade deadline acquisitions Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coyle both have been productive throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while homegrown talents like Matt Grzelcyk and Danton Heinen have helped complement the Bruins' veteran core.

It's a different squad than the top-heavy '88 and '90 teams, which relied on Neely and Ray Bourque to shoulder much of the workload.

Neely's lesson learned has paid off so far, but there's one more hurdle to clear in the St. Louis Blues, who come to TD Garden on Monday night for Game 1.

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Zdeno Chara joins Patrice Bergeron in admirable action this week while attending Boston protest

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File photo

Zdeno Chara joins Patrice Bergeron in admirable action this week while attending Boston protest

The Boston Bruins leadership group has shown they are about more than simple lip service and social media posts when it comes to what’s been going on in this country over the last few weeks.

Patrice Bergeron made a $50,000 donation to a pair of worthy causes this week in the Boston branch of the NAACP and Centre Multiethnique de Quebec while releasing a lengthy, passionate statement through the Bruins.

B's captain Zdeno Chara was spotted in all his 6-foot-9 glory walking in Boston on Friday afternoon during one of the protests through the city streets while sporting a Bruins mask in the crowd.

None of this is a surprise as both the 43-year-old Chara and the 33-year-old Bergeron have fostered a welcoming, friendly environment in the Bruins dressing over the years. The Bruins veterans don’t even really use the word “rookie” because Chara has always believed that it creates unnecessary separation between younger and older teammates that shouldn’t exist in a team setting.

Bergeron is partially credited with helping pull a black teammate named Gemel Smith out of a mental funk that he was mired in during his time with the Bruins. Bergeron urged Smith to talk to somebody professionally when he sensed that something wasn’t quite right with his new teammate and it helped Smith turn things around personally and professionally when he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.

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Smith ended up playing just three games with the Bruins last season after being picked up on waivers, but even in that brief time Bergeron had managed to reach out and make a connection with the player that made a lasting impact. That’s exactly the kind of healthy, welcoming dressing room that’s made the Bruins a success over the years.

There isn’t a long history of black players with the Bruins in recent years as Smith, Jarome Iginla and Malcolm Subban are the only black NHLers to suit up with Boston over the last decade. So there haven't been a great deal of opportunities for Bergeron, Chara and the rest of the B’s leadership core to show just much they embrace the diversity and equal treatment for all that so many around the NHL are voicing in the days since George Floyd was horrifically killed by Minneapolis police officers.

But give full credit to both Bergeron and Chara for stepping up this week, representing the Bruins in a manner they would be proud of and showing that it’s about actions as much as -- if not more than -- words when it comes to promoting equal treatment for all, and a better tomorrow for people of all races and backgrounds.

Breaking down the winners and losers of NHL 24-team season return format

Breaking down the winners and losers of NHL 24-team season return format

The NHL has their 24-team postseason format and they’ve even drilled down on some of the specifics this week.

We still don’t know exactly when the Stanley Cup postseason can start or when NHL training camps would be going full speed ahead. Also, all of the matchups beyond the “qualifying round” are still very much in the air.

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Clearly there is still plenty we don’t know about the Stanley Cup Playoffs once the NHL presses the play button in the next few months.

But we do know enough about the proposed postseason to know who will benefit, and who will be getting the short end of the stick. So that’s enough to put together the always popular winners and losers list when it comes to the new NHL postseason format. 

Click here for the gallery.