BOLTON, Mass. — Cam Neely didn't start the summer the way he would have liked, but as the offseason comes to a close, the new Bruins president is certainly feeling more upbeat.
"It's exciting now," said Neely before the start of Monday's seventh annual Bruins Golf Tournament at The International. "Once you get past Labor Day you get the juices flowing.
"We've got some unfinished business to take care of, certainly, but the guys are prepared and they look good," added Neely. "We'll see how training camp goes, but we think we have a much better club this year."
That "unfinished business" came in the form of last spring's playoff loss to Philadelphia after leading the Flyers 3-0 in the second round. But Neely's fortunes improved after he was promoted to president in June, then the club swung a deal for scoring winger Nathan Horton and drafted a potential franchise player in Tyler Seguin.
"To get a guy like Horton that's got the skill and the size that he does, and I know he's extremely excited about coming to this team and this area and to play in front of the fans that we have," said Neely. "We were fortunate enough to get a guy like Seguin with the second overall pick. [He has] tons of skill. We'll see how he handles the pace and the size of NHL players. That's something that's going to take him some time to adjust to, but he's got all the skills. Even some of the guys that are in our rookie camp right now have a lot more skill than we had in the past, so it's encouraging for us for sure."
Horton and Seguin are expected to inject some life in a Bruins offense that finished last in the league in scoring in 2009-10, but Neely was quick to point out that it's not just up to the newcomers to get the Bruins' attack back on track. He also expects last year's underachievers to produce up to their capabilities.
"I think we're going to be able to produce more offensively," said Neely. "That was something that was lacking last year. I would anticipate that some of the guys that maybe had off years will rebound from that. We've got some guys that didn't play up to their expectations and I know they're anxious to get back and show everybody what they're capable of doing. So it's not just the additions that we have, but some of the play that the guys had in the regular season, I know they want to improve on that too."
The scoring struggles and playoff disappointment led to changes this offseason, and rumors of even more potential changes. Those trade talks upset some players, particularly Marc Savard, but Neely expects everyone to put such distractions and any hurt feelings behind them when camp gets under way on Friday.
"Speaking as a former player, you can't worry about what's out of your control," said Neely. "The way I looked at it when I was a player was when you hear about rumors and things you can't really control, you can't worry about it. The only thing you can worry about is the stuff you can control, whether it's in sports or in life in general. That's how I approached it as a player and I would think that most players approach it that way. It's always difficult if you hear your name mentioned in ways you don't want it to be mentioned, but like I said, things you can't control you shouldn't worry too much about."
Neely himself seemingly has more control of the club with his new promotion, but he insists his working relationship with general manager Peter Chiarelli has not changed.
"We've got a great working relationship just like from Day 1," said Neely. "It hasn't really changed. We want to work well together. We've got a great management group here. We've made some good strides the last few years and I don't see that changing."
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