The award, one of the most prestigious in hockey, was presented to the National Hockey League by the New York Rangers in 1966. It honors the memory of Lester Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and general manager and was a pioneer in the sport’s development.
This morning, after practice, Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron
talked about Cam Neely and why he thought the NHL had made an excellent choice.
"Every time you hear about the Bruins, you hear about Cam Neely," said Bergeron. "He’s still a huge influence on us as players, and we’re professional athletes.
"We grew up watching certain players, and Cam was one of them. He seemed like a huge leader on and off the ice. On the ice, just his will to compete and his intensity on the ice and the way that he wanted to score goals and do all the details to win was something special.
"To me, he’s the true definition of being a Bruin and I’m trying to [follow his example]."
Boston defenseman Mark Stuart also talked about Neely's role.
"I mean, lead by example is something you hear a lot," said Stuart. "And all you’ve got to do is go back and watch some of Cam’s games, and I think that’s what he expects out of us.
"Just work hard every night like he did and play hard, play tough."
Fellow defenseman Matt Hunwick agreed with Stuart.
"I didn’t have a chance to watch him live when I was growing up, but watching old footage, he’s the guy that every time he’s on the ice, you notice him," said Hunwick. "Whether it’s through physical play or scoring goals, and I think he played the game the right way
"So, you know, he was obviously a role model for a lot of kids not only here in the States, but...I’m sure in Canada as well.
"He’s been a great ambassador for hockey and he does a lot of good things now within the organization."
Stuart and Hunwick also talked about the other recipients of this year's Patrick Award.
While in college, Stuart's Colorado College and Hunwick's University of Michigan faced off against Boston's collegiate powerhouses on Commonwealth Avenue -- Boston College and Boston University.
Stuart said that BC's Coach York and BU's Coach Parker made for tough contests.
"The BU team, they were always a hard working team," said Stuart. "They always had some some physical players.
"And I think because a lot of the kids were local kids, you know, Boston kids, Massachusetts kids, there was a lot of pride for their school."
"It was a little bit of the same [with Boston College," continued Stuart. "A different kind of team, though.
"It seems like BC has always been a smaller, quick team.
"But again, they had a lot of pride for their school...[and] hey both had good systems."
Hunwick talked about Parker and York's longevity.
"You think about coach York and Coach Parker and college hockey as far as [their] being around for so long -- especially in the Boston area," said the Michigan-born Hunwick. "Being at BC and BU, they made it great for college hockey and they made it great for a lot of kids who maybe wouldn’t have necessarily chosen the college route.
"When you have veteran coaches who have proven over the years that they can not only win, but teach the kids the right way to play, it’s always good for college hockey."
Teaching has been a trademark of AHL hockey and Mark Stuart talked about the importance of his time in Dave Andrew's American Hockey League.
"I thought it was huge for me to go down there and just learn the pro game because it’s a lot different than college," said Stuart. "It’s a big step.
"I learned a lot from the coaches down there. It’s a great league with a lot of good players.
"It’s a tough league to play in, and you learn right away how to be a pro and how to play like a pro," he said.
Asked if he could see how important Andrews, Neely, Parker and York's careers were to the development of American hockey, the Minnesota-born Stuart agreed wholeheartedly and no doubt spoke for Hunwick as he praised all four men.
"Oh yeah for sure," said Stuart. "I think, indirectly and directly, they all have affected my hockey career.
"They’re very deserving of the award, and I’m very happy for them."