“It’s always flattering,” Lucic said during Tuesday’s Stanley Cup Final media day. “He’s a hockey icon. The power forward position wasn’t created until he created it. He’s a sports icon in Boston. He’s a sports icon in the hockey world. To be mentioned in the same sentence as him is definitely a big honor for me.”
That honor is particularly strong considering the stature Neely holds in the Lucic household.
“What’s funny, and if you ask my dad he’ll tell you the same story,” Lucic said. “When he first immigrated to Canada, he went to a Canucks game and he remembered seeing this No. 21 [Neely] skating around, going out there and getting into a fight, then all of the sudden he would score. And he was like, ‘Oh my god, who is this guy?’ And it ended up being Cam. And I remember as a kid, he said to me — and I didn’t really know who Cam Neely was other than his role in Dumb and Dumber — but he said to me, ‘If there’s any player you want to be like, this is the guy you want to be like.'”
The two players have been linked ever since Lucic joined the Bruins organization as a second-round selection in 2006. That pick can be traced directly to the trade that brought Neely to Boston 25 years ago. The Bruins acquired Neely and a first-round pick used to select Glen Wesley for Barry Pederson on June 6, 1986, which also happened to be Neely’s birthday. The 25th anniversary of that deal arrives next week, and this time Neely will celebrate by watching the Bruins host Vancouver in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at the Garden.
“When I saw that date, it also happens to be my birthday, it was an interesting birthday gift that I
was given,” Neely said. “I don’t know if it was from the Canucks or Boston when I got traded. Yeah, Game 3. That will be an exciting day for sure.”
It will be exciting for Lucic as well, who came to Boston two decades later after a string of other trades. Wesley was dealt to the Hartford Whalers for three first-round picks, one of which was used on Sergei Samsonov in 1997. Nine years later, Samsonov was traded to Edmonton for Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny and a second-round pick — the pick used to take Lucic in the draft that was held in his hometown of Vancouver in 2006.
Now, Lucic is the Bruins’ top-line power forward, returning to Vancouver with a chance to win the one prize that eluded Neely, who passed on some words of wisdom to his young protégé about taking advantage of this opportunity.
“Coming to this point now [playing in the Cup Final], he was able to do it in ’88 and ’90, and he just said to go out there, play everything on a line and play every game like there’s no tomorrow and in the end there’ll be no regrets,” Lucic said. “We’ve heard him say it, if there’s one thing that he wished he could have done when he played was win a Stanley Cup. And here we are, having an opportunity at that, and to win it with him would be definitely special.”
Neely, now the Bruins’ president, admitted that while it might not make up for not winning a Cup as a player, a Bruins victory in this series would certainly mean a lot.
“It would be by far the next best thing, there’s no question,” Neely said. “Absolutely no question. I mean, when you’re a player, your goal is to make the NHL. Once you get into the league, you want to win the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a chance to do it in a uniform, but hopefully I can do it in a suit.”
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