For the last three seasons, Cam Neely has served as vice president of the Boston Bruins, and on Wednesday, the VP became the team’s first President since Harry Sinden stepped down into an advisor role.
"I am honored and proud to be named the eighth team president in Boston Bruins history today,” Neely said in a press conference at TD Garden announcing his promotion Wednesday. “The last three seasons working in the Bruins front office has been an experience that I have truly enjoyed each and every day. We have made great strides as an organization in recent years both on and off the ice. But having said that, we understand much more progress can be made, and much more progress needs to be made if we are able to meet our ultimate objectives. As President, I embrace these challenges that lie ahead and look forward to taking this organization to new heights."
According to team Governor Charlie Jacobs, both hockey and business operations will report directly to Neely in the Bruins' new front office structure. But Neely made it clear numerous times Wednesday that he looks at the hockey operations end as a team-oriented atmosphere and not simply as the buck stopping with him.
“I look at our hockey operations department as a team, and I think we have a great team in place. 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.”
When the Hall of Famer and fan favorite took over the VP post prior to the 2007-08 season, the Bruins were coming off two straight seasons in which they missed the playoffs, and Neely promised to do his best to restore the tradition and identity of the Bruins. Both Neely and general manager Peter Chiarelli hoped to turn the Bruins into "a team that is tough to play against."
"It's a great franchise," Neely said at the time. "Tons of tradition, and a lot of great players have come through here. Players took pride in putting on that jersey and it showed in the way they played."
On Wednesday he expressed a similar opinion of how he tried to approach every Bruins player in his role as team vice president and will approach them as president.
“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.”