Playing a matinee game no matter the time of year always appealed to ex-Bruins great Cam Neely.
"It was something I wasn't accustomed to until I got to Boston, and it was great," Neely told NHL.com in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon. "You wake up, go right to the rink and get into the game mode as opposed to going to rink, having a morning skate, lunch, then pregame nap, and having all that time to think about the game."
For Neely, though, there was nothing like playing in the matinee game in Boston on the day after Thanksgiving. That was always different and always special because of the kids in the stands and the family atmosphere that was felt throughout the building, even on the ice.
"You always thought about looking around a little bit in warm-ups to see a bunch of kids in there," Neely said, "which was cool because it brought you back to when you were a kid and the buzz of the first NHL game that you ever attended."
Neely took part in Boston's first Black Friday home afternoon game on Nov. 23, 1990. Twenty-one years later, the tradition that has been interrupted only by NHL work stoppages in 1994 and 2004 is going national with NBC set to broadcast the first 2011 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown between the host Bruins and the visiting Detroit Red Wings at 1 p.m. ET on Friday.