|Todd Kelman, GM of the Belfast Giants, joined Cam Neely at the TD Garden on Monday. (Photo: Brian Babineau) |
Born in Calgary, Alberta, Kelman, a former standout on defense for Bowling Green State University and a former member of the Giants couldn’t help but talk about the excitement going on in the Northern Ireland thanks to the game scheduled for October 2nd.
“Massive – absolutely massive,” said Kelman about the reaction in his adopted hometown to the B’s visit. “This will be the biggest game that the Giants ever hosted, [the biggest game] that has ever come to Belfast and it has become an event for the entire league.”
The Elite Ice Hockey League [EIHL], a pro hockey league in the United Kingdom, does have a small, but active, fan base. Apparently, many of those fans and most hockey fans in the area consider themselves Boston Bruins fans as well.
“I think if you’re from Ireland and you pick a team [in the NHL] it’s the Boston Bruins,” explained Kelman. “There is such a connection between Boston and Ireland in general and you can be walking downtown in Dublin, I can be walking downtown in Belfast, and you’ll see a few Boston Bruins jerseys.
“So, I think if the Giants fans pick their team they are Boston fans.”
This might cause some confusion this September since the two teams will be battling each other, but the Giants GM just laughed it off.
“People in Ireland are Bruins fans. There are going to be a lot more [Boston fans] in the stands,” Kelman joked.
“I think I’ll even bypass and let Giants fans be Bruins fans for one night," continued Kelman, who added, "I think we’ll all be Bruins fans for a long time to come.”
All joking aside, this will be an important exhibition game for the B’s as players on the Bruins roster will no doubt attempt to prove their worth and gain some much needed attention from Head Coach Claude Julien.
“Well we’re going to have guys that are fighting for jobs and we’re going to have guys that are looking to make impressions on the coach,” said Neely when asked what the Giants and their fans should expect from the Black & Gold. “We’re going to have guys that want to rebound from the season they had last year.
“[Fans] should expect a strong work ethic, guys battling hard…coming to compete hard, and work hard.”
Neely also talked about a lighter side of playing in Belfast.
“To play league games over there with a different type of crowd, a different atmosphere I think it’s something everybody is excited about -- from a player’s perspective,” explained Neely. “I think this is going to be one of those [bonding] experiences for our guys to...have less distractions and get together as a group and start overseas.”
Neely is personally excited to visit Belfast as the newly appointed president of the Boston Bruins.
“I’m definitely going,” he said. “I mean we’re excited about it and I know the players are excited about it.
“I think we have some travel packages not just for Prague but also this trip in Belfast, which is pretty cool.
“So many of our fans have an opportunity to get over there to take in a good hockey game in Belfast,” he said.