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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