It should have happened years ago, but tonight the Boston Bruins will finally raise #8 to the rafters, forever retiring the jersey of the prototypical power-forward, Cam Neely. If his career hadn't have been shortened by Ulf Samuelsson who knows how many goals Cam would have racked up (Neely was only 31 when he retired). Instead he finished with 395 goals and 299 assists in 726 career games, along with 1241 penalty minutes. 344 of his goals came in 525 games with the Bruins. Though it's not mentioned a lot Neely was one of the fastest to score 50 goals in a season, doing it in 44 games. Officially it took longer because Neely missed 3 games in between the first and last goals. The reason? He lost his father to brain cancer, six years after his mother died of colon cancer.
The term 'power-forward' is thrown around a lot these days in hockey and it's used to describe guys like Todd Bertuzzi, Brendan Shananhan, John Leclair (before he wrecked his back), and occasionally centres like Forsberg and Thornton. What you have to realize is that the term wasn't a part of the hockey lexicon until Cam Neely became the perfect combination of grit, size, strength and skill. As Terry O'Reilly said in the Boston Globe, "He fought, he shot, and he checked, and it was utterly impossible to stop him."
Neely still holds the Bruins records for goals in a season (54), career playoff goals (55), and playoff goals in a season (16), as well as points in one game (3 goals, 4 assists, 7pts).
I have three regrets as a hockey fan- never going to a game at the Boston Garden, never getting to see Ray Bourque play, and never getting to see Cam in person. That last one is the real kicker.
There will never, ever, be another Cam.
Neely revered by Bruins young and old -Boston Globe
Neely's Great 8 -Boston Globe
Those Cam fires burn on brightly -Boston Globe
Who needs to be a hockey hero? -The Globe and Mail
`A presence on the ice': Former teammates applaud retirement of Neely's No. 8 -Boston Herald
Neely's passion surpassed his pain -Boston Herald
Slow start couldn't stop Cam -Boston Herald
Special night for Neely -The Enterprise
ESPN has finally decided to chime in on the retirement of Neely's #8. It took them a while but their articles are better than anything on TSN so far, so kudos. If you read nothing else on Cameron Michael Neely read John Buccigross' article which includes what he would say if he were asked to introduce #8 tonight in Boston.