"There's no question [it's exciting]," he said. "This is all new, so it's a great experience -- obviously for current players to be able to play a league game there -- but this will also be fun for us too, to be able to get out there."
Two current members of the Bruins organization, who also happen to be former teammates, will join Neely in the pressbox on Jan 1 and on the ice Jan 2. Assistant general manager and former B's defenseman Don Sweeney and Boston Bruins Foundation director of development and former B's (Boston College) forward Bob Sweeney will both be heavily involved next weekend.
As former skaters for the Black & Gold, both men see the heightened significance of the Bruins game versus the Flyers at Fenway, but they also appreciate the pageantry that is inherent in the installation of the rink and all the events that lead into, and out of, the Winter Classic.
"They did an awesome job [with the rink set up], and obviously everybody knows and understands the history involved with the ballpark, but to bring an outdoor [game] here and to be part of this is pretty special," said Don Sweeney, who also played his college hockey at Harvard University. "To bring the NHL to this type of environment is an incredible idea and I am really glad that the Jacobs family and the Bruins organization lobbied hard to be able to bring this here.
"And I am very thankful to the NHL for doing this because the city of Boston and the sports fan here deserves this. And I am really glad that we are a part of it."
Bob Sweeney, sitting on the bench outside Fenway's rink and no doubt remembering spring evenings spent in the ballpark when he was at Boston College, simply couldn't fathom where he was situated.
"Whoever thought we would be skating at Fenway Park?" said Bob, a Massachusetts's native. "Where am I sitting right now? I am sitting over second base probably.
"So It's a great experience and...it's awesome. What a great visual and to be able to get out here [on December 18th] and skate and on January 2nd to be able to play in a game here after the big boys play here on the 1st will be a dream come true!
"Its going to be a great experience for our team and out our organization to be part of the winter classic."
The idea of playing outdoors was not foreign to either man, New Brunswick, Canada native Don Sweeney said that his high school days in New Hampshire cemented his appreciation of the open air game.
"Well, I grew up playing in outdoor rinks and the prep school that I went to, St. Paul's, always had an outdoor rink there, so I've always enjoyed the black ice experience of being on ponds," he said.
But the defenseman couldn't hide the fact that his emotions were turning him as green as Fenway's famous wall.
"To be honest with you, as a former player, the bottom line is am jealous -- jealous as heck -- not to have been able to take part in something like this," he explained. "I think the players themselves should feel really, really fortunate that they are going to have a chance to be a part of the history."
Bob Sweeney, still known as "Swoop" within the walls of the TD Garden, reiterated his excitement for the whole experience and echoed Don's appreciation of the spectacle.
"It's great cast of characters [including the] former Bruins [who got] to break the ice," he said. "And I mean its just like when you are back outside skating outside as a kid."
And as far as the myriad hockey fans who will take in the event, particularly in the United States, Bob thinks that the Winter Classic can only help the development of hockey in the USA.
"I think the NHL has done a great job to kind of capture New Year's day as their day," said Swoop. "Everyone says, 'Oh yah, it's that outdoor game, right?'
"So obviously, in the first [Winter Classic], with the snow in Buffalo and [Pittsburgh's] Sidney Crosby scoring the winner, they couldn't have scripted it any better.
"But maybe we'll take Savvy [Marc Savard
] scoring the winning goal or Zee [B's captain Zdeno Chara
] scoring the winning goal in a shootout."
And maybe we'll see Cam, Bob or Don net one the next day in the AT&T Legends Classic, too.