In today's episode of Season Ticket, guest host Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) sits down for a one-on-one with Boston Bruins President Cam Neely. The two discuss how the Bruins are handling a young team and what moves they need to make to become more competitive.
- Cam Neely, President, Boston Bruins
On the impact of injuries early on in the Bruins season
Fluto Shinzawa: Right off the hop, you don’t have Patrice Bergeron, you don’t have David Backes, and then the hits keep on coming. These are significant players, from your goalie [Tuukka Rask] to [Brad] Marchand’s out and [David] Krejci’s out. What is it like as you guys are watching this unfold, in terms of these early injuries?
Cam Neely: It’s certainly a little frustrating because ... going into the season without the lineup you anticipated gives you a little bit of anxiety. Points are at such a premium and you want to get out to a strong start in the league. We did have some concerns about where we’re going to be but we found other guys stepping up for us. Like I said, we kept our heads above water but there was a lot of anxious moments seeing guys continue to go down.
"Other teams’ success, I think, pushes everybody else—you don’t want to fall behind when teams are doing well in this market."Cam Neely, on keeping pace in the Boston sports market
On why the Bruins' embraced a youth movement
Cam Neely: Some is injury-driven and some we felt guys were ready to push for a job. And some of it's cap-related, where you identify your core players and you’re going to end up paying them, and then you’re going to need some entry-level guys coming in that hopefully can play and round out not only the lineup but your cap situation so you can manage it as best as possible throughout the course of the year.
On head coach Bruce Cassidy and staff's first full season in Boston
Cam Neely: I think they’ve done a great job so far juggling the lineup day-to-day without really knowing who’s gonna be in. Sometimes you don’t know until game time or after warmup. To be able to manage that is a lot in itself and then to try and get your team prepared to win hockey games, especially with a younger lineup ... there is a learning curve. You have to maybe teach a little bit more and I think the staff we have has done that throughout this year.
On areas the Bruins can improve
Cam Neely: At the top of the list is being a consistent team and giving yourself a chance to win on a regular basis. Our starts could be a little bit better ... Our power play has struggled a little bit lately ... but hopefully we can get that first unit going again and not thinking too much out there and make the plays.
On looking for upgrades at the trade deadline
Cam Neely: We’re always looking at the club and seeing where we can upgrade and I think we could probably find some depth on the right side up front and maybe on the left D side ... We’ve talked about ... a guy that can eat up some minutes—move the puck well, skate well—but not necessarily have to be that offensive defensemen.
"We kept our heads above water but there was a lot of anxious moments seeing guys continue to go down."Cam Neely
On keeping pace with the rest of the Boston sports market
Fluto Shinzawa: I don’t know if you want to consider them competitors, the Patriots and Celtics and Red Sox, but I think the Patriots interest is at an all-time high, the Celtics are up-and-coming. How do you incorporate what you are trying to sell to your fans in the context of the other sports teams?
Cam Neely: There’s some crossover with all the teams, some more than others as far as our fan base goes. At the end of the day, the product on the field/court/ice really drives the bus. Other teams’ success, I think, pushes everybody else—you don’t want to fall behind when teams are doing well in this market ... We know we have a really strong, core fanbase but we still want to continue to grow our game, grow our fanbase. The main way to do that is put a product on the ice that people want to come and watch. And hopefully we’re winning more than losing.