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B's Brass Recaps Cup Run, Looks Ahead to Future

Jacobs, Neely talk 2018-19 season, summer plans, Garden renovations

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, CEO Charlie Jacobs, and president Cam Neely met with the media on Tuesday afternoon at TD Garden to reflect on the 2018-19 season, a campaign that they believe is one to be proud of, despite it ending on a sour note with the team's loss to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

"I think it way exceeded my original expectations," said Jeremy Jacobs. "I thought we were more evolving…I thought we showed more maturity, more development than I thought we had gotten to…it was an outstanding season. I think it says a lot about our management and a lot about our coaching. There isn't a person in the league that didn't say to me, 'You know, we really admire the way this team was built.' I'm very proud of it."

"We can certainly try and enjoy the year even though it's difficult when you don't win that last game, especially Game 7 to win it all," added Neely. "It's heartbreaking, really. You feel for the guys, everything they [went] through the whole season, playing hurt - not only how hard it is to get in, but how hard it is to get to the Finals. But we have to move on from that and look at our club and see where we can make improvements."

Video: Mr. Jacobs takes a look back on the 2018-19 season

Here's a rundown of some of the other topics they touched upon during their end-of-season press conference:

Growth Opportunities

Despite reaching Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins know there is still plenty of room for growth. With a number of young players gaining invaluable postseason experience over the last two seasons, and Boston's championship core still intact, the Black & Gold remain positioned for more success over the next few seasons.

"We always have to continue to look at how to make our club better," said Neely. "Regardless if you win the last game or not, you still want to look at what you can do to improve your hockey club. We didn't win the last game, so we weren't good enough. We have to look at how we can improve. Coming into next year, we have to learn from this year"

But to maximize the window during which those core groups continue to converge, Boston's brass knows it must find the right complementary pieces heading into next fall and beyond.

"When we hired [General Manager Don Sweeney] that was certainly a conversation about how do we take this core that won in [2011] and give them another opportunity to win while they're still somewhat in their prime, and we still look at it that way," said Neely. "We know, you know, our players are now one year older, and we're another year removed from winning in '11, so we certainly have recognized what we have coming, what we need to have coming…we're talking [about] pretty big shoes to fill. 

"We're certainly aware of that, and we recognize that. We still think they've got some good hockey left in them, but we certainly know that it's winding down, so to speak."

Neely was asked specifically about what needs to improve heading into next season and he pointed to the possibility of finding another top-six forward to add to the group of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Jake DeBrusk, and David Krejci.

"Obviously I know it's been talked about at length about another top-six forward, so we'll see where that ends up," said Neely. "We're obviously going to need to have some strong centermen coming through the system, as we talked about with where Krejci and Bergeron are. 

"Our back end, I'm pretty comfortable obviously with [Brandon] Carlo, [Charlie] McAvoy. [Matt] Grzelcyk played really well for us this year. Torey [Krug] had a strong year…obviously Zdeno's [Chara] another year older, but we've got a couple good, young lefthanded prospects coming. 

"And I think our bottom six was pretty strong this year, so if we can strengthen, in the immediate future, our top six, that's something we'd like to try and do. We've talked about that for a couple years now."

Video: Neely recaps 2018-19, looks ahead to offseason

Getting A Facelift

If you had a chance to visit TD Garden this season, you no doubt noticed the drastic changes happening in and around the building with the development of The Hub on Causeway, which will feature restaurants, bars, shops, a movie theater, a hotel, and office space. 

The Garden's new entrance from Causeway Street opened last fall and will continue to evolve over the summer as the interior of the building is upgraded. Each seat inside the arena will be switched out, a process that began during the postseason, and new seating areas will be added, increasing the Garden's capacity.

In order for the work - which also includes updates to ice level and the locker room areas - to be completed in time for next season, TD Garden will close for roughly 10 weeks beginning on June 30.

"I remember coming to this building and seeing it half empty, and it's changed quite a bit since my tenure, frankly," said Charlie Jacobs, who took over as CEO in 2006. "We're always trying to improve the product on the ice and the fan experience in the building, and this year and this summer is no different. If you came through here you probably witnessed a significant amount of construction going on, both out front and inside this building itself. 

"We're closing this building up for roughly 10 weeks this summer. No concerts, no shows, no events whatsoever to redo literally every seat in the entire bowl of TD Garden. We'll be doing some re-aisling, and we'll be adding some seats to increase the capacity of the building itself. 

"And our goal is, by the fall, when the puck drops again to have one of, if not the best, fan experiences in the entire National Hockey League."

With the Bruins playing all the way through Game 7 of the Final, construction plans had to be delayed, though it was certainly a good problem to have.

"For lack of a better term, [we] sort of reverse engineered what the last possible date that we could be playing in a Game 7, which we were fortunately, and made our plans backed up from there," said Jacobs. "[We will] literally have cranes come on the floor of TD Garden itself so that we can operate and change Level 9.

"Section by section, we'll be taking seats out….and re-aisleing for new seats for 2020 ADA standards and life safety matters. What was state-of-the-art in 1995 is vastly different for 2019 and 2020."

Video: Charlie Jacobs talks about improvements to TD Garden

Official Business

Jeremy Jacobs, also the chairman of the NHL's Board of Governors, was asked about the league's officiating issues, given the amount of egregious mishaps during this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. While Jacobs acknowledged that mistakes are inevitable in sports, he also noted that there is room for improvement.

"We're a professional sport, and I think we suffer what all professional sports are trying to get done. We're trying to be perfect without interfering with the game," said Jacobs. "We try and make all the correct judgements, and it's clear that we're not there yet. That's pretty vague, but I'm going to stay that way.

"I think we can see some real changes. I'm hopeful that we do it better in a very quick way. It's important that this game not be interrupted, but at what cost."

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