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Year-End Media Availability with Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs, Principal Charlie Jacobs and President Cam Neely

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS YEAR-END MEDIA AVAILABILITY WITH BRUINS OWNER JEREMY JACOBS, PRINCIPAL CHARLIE JACOBS & PRESIDENT CAM NEELY

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

YEAR-END MEDIA AVAILABILITY AT 11:00 AM AT TD GARDEN
On if the team has to alter their approach to the game to steer away from fisticuffs…
CAM NEELY: Well, I still believe that we like the physical game and physical play which at times leads to dropping the gloves. But there’s always been a lot of talk, primarily with the media, about you know, ‘is fighting still necessary in our game?’. I think with the way the game’s played and how it is played and how physical it is, I still feel it is still part of the game. But where it goes, you see from like 70s, 80s, 90s, it’s a little different or probably still trend that way, yes.

On where that mentality leaves Shawn Thornton…
CAM NEELY: Well we still have to sit down with our group and talk about the season and what our team will look like moving forward so we haven’t had that discussion just yet.

On what he would like to see Peter Chiarelli accomplish this offseason…
CAM NEELY: Well I think we look at, really, making our team – we did have a great regular season. We feel short in the second round, which disappoints everybody so we want to reevaluate where we think we could improve upon and look at that as opposed to major overhauls. I think when we have the regular season we had, especially the stretch from March in to April, that wasn’t luck. We were a good team and we still feel we have a good team and maybe need a few tweaks.

On if there were any regrets about not getting a veteran defenseman at the trade deadline…
CAM NEELY: I can speak to what we tried to do at the deadline. Not in detail, but with what was available and how we thought we wanted to add as opposed to add and subtract, we thought we had something in place but it was predicated on another team making a deal and it didn’t pan out. But again, we were going through that really good stretch of hockey and we thought we really just needed to add some depth and if a player with term became available, like the one we were trying to acquire, it would have been a bonus for us. But obviously I don’t think that is the full reason why we didn’t get past the second round to be honest with you.

On what he thinks the reason is as to why the team didn’t advance past the second round…
CAM NEELY: Well I think we got away from playing how we need to play to be successful. For whatever reason, whether it’s, I don’t want to take anything away from how Montreal played. They played a great series against us but we didn’t play our type of hockey that you saw over the course of the regular season, especially at the end of the season. I don’t know if it was – we weren’t getting pucks in properly, we weren’t getting them in deep, we weren’t able to create any kind of cycle game that we normally do. We didn’t have multiple opportunities. When we were in the zone, it was usually one and done. For us, when you look at our team and the way we play, we are a team that usually can wear other teams down and create more scoring opportunities, which we just didn’t do.

On if it is easier to know what you need to add and subtract based on the new playoffs format…
CAM NEELY: Yeah, I think you look at the teams that you are going to face in your division in the playoffs in the first couple rounds. And you look at their teams, you look at your team and I think that has been done prior to going one through eight and reseeding. So again, we’ve built a pretty good team, a successful team. This year is probably especially disappointing because of the regular season that we had and how we felt that we could be more successful in the playoffs. So again, we will get together shortly and meet as a group and talk about what we think we need to do to improve.

On if speed is something that he is taking away from the series with Montreal…
CAM NEELY: Yeah, I think we’ve heard about speed in the first round against Detroit, we heard about speed against Montreal in the second round and I think on the back end we added some speed from previous years. We’re going to talk about what we need to do on the front end. I think there is no question that it is a faster game, and speed is something that is important in this game and we’re going to talk about addressing that.

On if he thinks the team is in good shape if the team can gain clean entry and get back to their offensive game…
CAM NEELY: I do and you hit the nail on the head – getting clean entry. I felt at times we were trying to make plays at the blue line where maybe we turned the puck over and we were going in as they were coming out. We weren’t getting the puck in smart and Carey Price handles the puck really well so smarter dumps probably would have been better where we could have been on top of them a little bit more as opposed to getting the puck around behind the net where Carey [Price] could come out and play it. He plays it like a defenseman so we could have been a little better in that area.

On the confidence level of the management group…
JEREMY JACOBS: This was sort of a tale of two seasons. One of them, I mean, we had the best team in the National Hockey League during the regular season and it was our expectation to carry that on fully and it didn’t happen. I have a great deal of confidence in the management. Obviously they put together a team that did perform the best, as I say the best in the National Hockey League. As they look to organize this going forward, I don’t think they are looking at a massive change. I think they are looking at tweaking it as opposed to doing any serious chance. I think keeping the organization together is one of their objectives and two is to improve on it.

On if he expects the management group to look different going forward…
CAM NEELY: Well we have given permission for Jim [Benning] to talk. He has talked to a couple different teams. That’s what happens when you have success. Teams look at other organizations that have success and start inquiring about your management group. It’s something that a lot of good organizations have had to deal with over time and we are dealing with that right now.

On if it is a point of pride to see the management team wanted by others…
JEREMY JACOBS: Yeah it is. I think that it speaks to what’s now become sort of the Boston model. People do want to copy what you’re doing because of the success we have seen and we didn’t win this year, and got to the Finals the year before and all. These are enviable positions to be in. I love being here after a season like we just had. Disappointment in the playoffs and our objective is the Cup, it isn’t necessarily to have the best team during the regular season as it is to win the Stanley Cup. We will continue that objective and I think we will continue to grow from here.

On if there was behavior in the playoffs that disappointed them and if there is any concern about the team’s reputation…
CAM NEELY: Well you don’t like to see that happen. The stick work is something that, you know, now-a-days you just can’t get away with. There’s two referees, there’s all kinds of cameras, there’s reporters that tweet information out as soon as it happens. You can’t get away with certain things like you used to be able to do. The water bottle incident is something that as an organization you don’t like to see happen to be quite honest with you. Stick work happens, it’s not just our team that does it, it does happen. I can tell you this, in handshake lines there’s probably worse things that have been said that just don’t get public. In the history of handshake lines I can almost guarantee that.

JEREMY JACOBS: It’s the silliness that goes on. It is a physical sport, there’s a lot of contact and there’s a lot of emotion. We can’t take that away from them but how they display it or how it comes back. But it is fun to report it.

On what he has seen since hiring Cam Neely going forward…
JEREMY JACOBS: It’s a leadership team and Cam [Neely] leads and is part of it. Starting with Charlie [Jacobs], through Peter [Chiarelli], through Claude [Julien] and Cam [Neely]. I think they have met and exceeded our expectations, my expectations at least. I think we’ve done a terrific job to create a winning institution. I think we have delivered on what we promised.

On the young core and how much consideration it will be given in the offseason…
CAM NEELY: Well it is important to infuse some younger players. You look at what happened with our back end this year, we had some young D that developed over the course of the year and as much as we’re disappointed with the playoffs, they’re going to learn a great deal from what they went through in the playoffs and they are going to grow from that. That’s what happens as a player, we talk about when you see a rookie come in at the end of winning the Stanley Cup they think, ‘oh my God this is easy and we’re going to do it again and again and again’, and they may not see a Finals for ten, fifteen years. So as long as the players understand, and I think they do, we really pride ourselves on trying to make sure we have players who have good character and that is important to build championship teams. And I think the young players that we have brought in or will eventually down the line bring in, not only do we want them to build character but they are going to learn and grow from winning and losing. And that is what we will see probably with our younger players from this season is the learning experience that they are going to get from losing.

JEREMY JACOBS: I think we are just beginning to – think next year you will probably harvest a lot from the new defensive players that you brought in this year. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about this, or the organization has. The organization is moving them in a way to maintain the great players that we have today along with bringing in the next generation.

On what was thought of the season Jarome Iginla had…
CAM NEELY: Well I thought he started out a little slow when he came on, he came on late and he came on strong. Obviously he’s a leader, he’s the captain of another team for a long time and he came in and added in an element to our group, especially the forward group. He ended up scoring 30 goals which is not easy in this league anymore and we would like to try and see if we can figure something out moving forward with him. We will see where that goes but I thought he fit in really well with our team.

On confidence in the Bruins’ leadership group as it currently stands…
CHARLIE JACOBS: A tremendous amount of confidence in our both on-ice leadership and off-the-ice leadership. A lot of character in our dressing room, and it starts with Zee [Zdeno Chara], but listen — there are a lot of complimentary pieces, and when you consider Patrice [Bergeron] and Krech [David Krejci], and we may have lost something with Andy Ference but we picked it up with Jarome [Iginla]. And then there’s a lot of character and leadership, and they held each other accountable, and you saw in your exit interviews — they all felt as though they maybe didn’t necessarily play their best but they let the team down, and that meant more to them than, say, their individual stats. And I think that speaks volumes about the mentality in the locker room itself, and that’s what you aspire to have. In terms of our organizational leadership, I think with Cam [Neely] and Peter [Chiarelli] and Don Sweeney and Jim [Benning], they’ve done a great job of really trying to assemble a mixture of both veteran and some young leadership to bring us back to the promised-land, if you will. And you need that mix. You need the right mix. We maybe erred a bit, a little bit, in terms of having too many inexperienced defensemen. If you think about it, really only two of them — two veterans on the back line this postseason. But as my dad referred to, that will pay dividends as you progress moving forward. So listen, I have great faith in both aspects. I do believe we’ll be right back there. I expect that we’ll be back there. Stranger things have happened, but I hope we start right out of the gate where we left off in March, not necessarily at the end of April.

On whether management has discussed any plans to use buyouts…
CAM NEELY: We haven’t talked about that, no.

On their thoughts on the “window of opportunity” to be at the top of the NHL…
CAM NEELY: Well, I feel, because of the way we played in the regular season, we haven’t fallen off the cliff. We didn’t play as well as we needed to play in the second round, and from my perspective, it’s — as a group, we didn’t play the way we were playing in March and in April. We still have — our core group, aside from maybe Zee [Zdeno Chara], our core group is still relatively young. You’re talking mid- to late-twenties, maybe. And Zdeno is still, in my opinion, the best defender in the game. So I still think we’re in our window. We just have to recognize what we need to do to make our team better, whether it’s guys playing better or whether we’re adding different players.

JEREMY JACOBS: I think management has a lot to do with — in hockey, it’s more evolutionary than revolutionary, in the sense that you evolve these teams. You evolve these players and have the opportunity to do it. It’s a team sport, not so much a star sport. We’re seeing more of that. So I think what you’re seeing is what I consider to be an extraordinarily well-managed team. Spent a lot of time at that level, and I think we’re harvesting, again, that investment in this quote unquote institution. So I expect this to continue on, into the future.

On where the team sees itself in relation to the salary cap moving into next year…
JEREMY JACOBS: I think we’ll be at the cap. It’s institutionalized, so to speak. It’s in there. It’s part of the fabric now, with the growing communication income that should continue to go up, which speaks well, one, for the accomplishments of the commissioner, but also the benefits will accrue to the players. They get 50 cents out of every dollar that comes in, so we’ll be investing in those players. It’s just going to get bigger.

CAM NEELY: I wish I was playing. [Laughter] Ownership has — both Mr. [Jeremy] Jacobs and Charlie [Jacobs] has given us the opportunity to spend to the cap. We’re going to have a little different — our cap number’s going to be a little different than what the league cap number is, based on bonuses carrying forward, but we’re given the opportunity to spend to the cap, if we feel it’s necessary to do that, which we also believe it helps us have a better, competitive team.

On whether there is a need to push any existing salary off to make more cap room…
CAM NEELY: We talk throughout the course of the season. We watch our team play and we see how the players are playing, and we do talk about next year, but we haven’t really had an opportunity to digest what necessarily happened in the second round. And looking forward, we’ve had little discussions between people — we haven’t sat down as a group and said, “Here’s what we should do.” We have an idea of what we’re going to do, but we haven’t really sat down and said, “We’re going to do this, this, this and this.

JEREMY JACOBS: Even with the cap, you have to concern yourself with [not] getting locked into a position where you don’t have any freedom, and I think that’s kind of what we’ve done really well up to now. But since we do have some bonuses that we have to absorb, I think, this coming year from last year, so we have to avoid that so we can have maximum flexibility.

On how any involvement with the Buffalo Bills would affect the Bruins…
JEREMY JACOBS: Well, I can’t buy the [Buffalo] Bills, because I own the Bruins. That’s not a bad place to be. I kind of like where I am.

On if the team will ever need a pure goal scorer mentality, versus the spread-out offense…
CAM NEELY: Well, I think we were maybe third in the League in goals-for, so that’s a pretty good place to be, and it spread out amongst the group, which is also a good place to be. I mean, you know obviously you can point to some of the games, where you say jeez if we had a pure goal scorer, we might have been in a different situation, but I keep pointing to that we didn’t play as well as we could have played, and maybe it’s something to do with Montreal, but I think a lot of it has to do with us. I think when you have that balanced attack, when you have – you know, we saw that stretch in March, if one line wasn’t going, the other two were, and we rarely just had one line going, and you see teams now where they have one line, they don’t really have the success that you have when you have multiple lines that can produce.

On a year later, how he evaluates the trade with Dallas…
CAM NEELY: Well, I mean, I don’t think anyone expected Reilly [Smith] to have the year that he had. We knew what type of player he could be, but it came probably quicker than we expected. Loui [Eriksson], I think he came in, and it was a difficult transition for him, and then he got hurt. We think he can be a better player, he’s proven to be a better player, and that’s our expectation, that he can be a better player. Saw [Matt] Fraser come in at the end of the year at the playoffs there. [Joe] Morrow we have in Providence, who is a really skilled defenseman that needs time to develop, but you know I mean, you can always look back at any trade, any transaction and say ‘what if.’ The deal is done, and we’ve got our players that helped us actually have the best record in the NHL in the regular season. We could have gotten more out of everybody in the playoffs, and I expect those guys to improve.

On if there is anything new on the practice facility…
CHARLIE JACOBS: Yeah, we’re actually in – interesting you bring it up, because we just had a meeting about our practice facility and a couple of different options. Best that I keep where we’re at right now a little close to the vest and say that we are moving along, and pursuing two distinct possibilities, both within 15 miles of the rink here.

On if he was concerned at all about focus, or an accountability issue, in regards to the team’s mentality and distractions during the series and in Game 7…
CAM NEELY: Well, I think when you see all of those things happen, there is some concern about, we’ve got to get back to where we’d like to be as an organization, and those are things –you know, when you have the passion, when you have the physicality of the way we play and certain players, and the drive and determination, yeah, you can harness that a little differently than what we showed, there’s no question.
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