Sitting about 18 inches behind his left foot was the trophy he sweat and bled for as a player but never could legally (in hockey player terms) get his hands on.
Nowadays, the Boston Bruins' President and Alternate Governor wants his fingerprints all over the Stanley Cup.
They're allowed to be.
"Sometimes you have to pinch yourself and say, 'Oh my god, the Stanley Cup is right here,' " Neely told NHL.com after pausing and looking over his left shoulder to see the sun-drenched old trophy on the patio of Kingfishers restaurant, which isn't more than five minutes from his childhood home. "It's pretty cool."
Neely spent years training and working toward winning the Cup, and the last three days enjoying being in its awe-inspiring presence. The fact that he won it as an executive, not as a bruising power forward skating around in a Bruins' sweater and playing the role of 'Bam Bam Cam' matters less and less to him as the days pass and the idea of spending time with the Cup became more real.
"When you play the sport, you hope to get in the NHL and once you get there you want to win the Cup as a player," Neely said. "I never had that opportunity, but like (Bruins' Assistant General Manager) Don Sweeney and I have said to each other, 'If you can't win it in a uniform, it's nice to win it in a suit."
This suit had the Cup Wednesday on Martha's Vineyard, where he is a seasonal resident. He celebrated with some of his Hollywood celebrity friends before traveling with it here to his childhood hometown on Thursday night.
Neely always knew that if he ever won the Cup, be it sweating through his pads or sweating it out in some custom-made threads, he would bring it home to the Vancouver region, where his sisters still live and his parents' ashes are spread.
This is where he learned how to grow into being a somebody and what you can do with that kind of power.
"You should never forget where you're from," said Neely, who even made an impromptu stop to take pictures with the Cup in front of the house he grew up in. "As much as I call Boston home, I call Maple Ridge home. It's always going to be home for me."
He had his full day with the Cup here Friday and the only difference he felt between winning it as an executive as opposed to a brash young player was the low-key nature with which he celebrated.
Even Neely admitted that had he won it with the Bruins in 1988 or 1990, the celebration would have been pretty legendary.
"Sometimes you have to pinch yourself and say, 'Oh my god, the Stanley Cup is right here. It's pretty cool."
-- Cam Neely
Neely was once one of them, a kid wearing Ridge Meadows on his sweater with big hockey dreams in his heart.
"It speaks to Cam's commitment to the community," Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin told NHL.com Friday morning from the event with the Stanley Cup. "What Cam did on the ice was outstanding, but I think a measure of a man is what he's done after it. He's willing to come back to his community and he really wanted this event to be about the kids because Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey is where he got his start."
Clearly he learned something here because Neely turned into a three-time 50-goal scorer as a player and a Cup-winning team executive. However, his mother, Marlene, never saw him do either because she succumbed to cancer in 1987, a year after the Canucks traded him to Boston.
Neely's dad, Mike, saw him play in the Stanley Cup Final in 1988 and 1990, but he died from cancer in 1994. The Cup was never in his hands or his home.
So, on Friday, the eldest son of Marlene and Mike did his best to bring the Stanley Cup to them. Neely's second stop of the day was at the beach in Belcarra Regional Park, where long ago he and his siblings spread their parents' ashes.
Neely took photos along the water with his 11-year-old daughter Ava as well as the families of his sisters Christine and Shauna. Neely's wife, Paulina, and his son Jack had to stay back in Boston. His brother, Scott, also couldn't make it.
"It had the significance that I was bringing the Stanley Cup to my parents," Neely said.
"To finally be able to win it, I know they were watching and I feel good about that," he said.
He still feels almost numb about winning it regardless of the fact that he didn't do it as a player. After all, the winning part is what matters because now he can finally call himself a champion, and he got to bring the goods back to the people that knew him before he was a member of the Hall of Fame and instead know him as a loving dad, husband, brother and friend.
"To see the looks on their faces when they're around the Cup and they can touch the puck and get a picture with the Cup, that's fun for me," Neely said from his private party for family and friends at Kingfishers. "I've got some friends here that I played hockey with when I was 11, 12, 13, 14 years old. Their parents are here, too. It's a thrill to be able to have them come and share in the Stanley Cup. These are people that have been in my life for a long time. It's special."
It's worth a few more double takes.
"This is something you absolutely want to do again," Neely said.
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl