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Neely brings passion, know-how to new job

by James Murphy
BOSTON -- Hockey Hall of Famer Cam Neely got a promotion Wednesday when he was bumped up to President of the Boston Bruins.

Neely, a former Bruins star who spent the last three years as a Vice President with the B's, is the team's first president since Harry Sinden stepped down into an advisor role.

After Neely was introduced at a news conference, Sinden told the media that he knew from the second he met Neely he was a special person and player -- and that Neely would eventually become part of team management.

"When Cam first arrived here at training camp it didn't take me long to see that we had a special player in that particular training camp before he had even played a game with the team," Sinden said. "Before he arrived here three years ago and he got into the management of the business and became an executive in the business, it wasn't very long before I felt the same thing about his future and our goal. I think he's gifted as a player and is very, very gifted as a management person so I think (team owner) Mr. (Jeremy) Jacobs and (team governor) Charlie (Jacobs) are going to be very, very proud of him."

Neely admitted he was a bit hesitant to jump into the VP role three years ago. But as one of the more passionate figures in the NHL and in general, he has discovered a new-found passion and is excited to begin his new job.

"When I was first offered the position to join the team it took me a while to decide to do it," Neely acknowledged. "I certainly welcomed the challenge after I decided to do it. The biggest thing for me was really the commitment that I saw from our ownership group which, at times, everybody had questioned. But they certainly have given our general manager the resources to put a product on the ice that competes for the Stanley Cup -- and you can see how things have changed because of that.

"I certainly wanted to see how I would do in the three years since and if I am enjoying it, and quite frankly, I found myself enjoying it more than I expected to. It's been fun working with (GM) Peter (Chiarelli) -- there's been some times where it hasn't been so much fun depending on how the team is playing, but that is part of sports. As I said, I look forward to the challenges ahead. This is a huge honor and opportunity for me and I'm looking forward to us giving the fans what they deserve, which is the Stanley Cup."

According to Charlie Jacobs, both hockey and business operations will report directly to Neely in the Bruins' new front-office structure. However, Neely isn't looking at the set-up as a dictatorship, but rather as a team effort.

"I look at our hockey operations department as a team, and I think we have a great team in place," he said. "There have been some bumps in the road over the past few years but I think overall we've taken this organization in the right direction and we're going to continue to do that. I've had great working relationships with Peter, with Don [Sweeney] and Jim [Benning], with Charlie, and I look for that to continue.

"There are a lot of things we want to accomplish. First and foremost is winning the Stanley Cup, and I can tell you without question that our ownership is strongly committed to bringing the Stanley Cup back to Boston. In the three years that I've been here and the position that I've been in, it was very clear to me that winning is very important. And everybody that knows me, knows that I hate losing more than I like winning. So this is something that I'm excited about, I'm excited about the challenge and the opportunity that lies ahead and I think as an organization we're going to make everybody very proud to be a fan of the Boston Bruins."
"I look forward to the challenges ahead. This is a huge honor and opportunity for me and I'm looking forward to us giving the fans what they deserve, which is the Stanley Cup." -- Cam Neely

Many Bruins players have been complimentary of Neely's approach to his job over the last three seasons and the way he has kept his passion as a player but at the same time allowed the players to be themselves and apply their passion in their own way. The one thing he does ask is that they exude that heart and effort every game.

"What I expected from teammates as a player and now the players in this position, is that they go out there and give an honest effort," Neely said. "And that's what I expect from the players is their commitment to working hard. There's nothing worse if you're a teammate and you know someone has mailed it in. I've said this all along: You may not be able to play well every night, but you can work hard every night. I know our fans expect that, our ownership expects that, and management expects that. So I've never looked at players and tried to say you need to be more like that player or so on. But if you work hard, good things will come."

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