Are Bruins Tough Enough? Cam Neely Offers His Thoughts

Neely pointed to how impactful Trent Frederic can be when he's on


December 22, 2021

The Boston Bruins found plenty of success in the era of the “Big, Bad Bruins.” And while those days are long over — if for no other reason than how much the game has changed through the years — it can’t keep some from asking if the B’s are too often pushed around.

Boston trading Danton Heinen straight up for Nick Ritchie in 2020 served as some level of an admission, as did the three-year deal given to Derek Forbort this offseason. They’re not looking for goons that relieve themselves of their gloves at the drop of a hat, but rather players who have that edgier brand of hockey that can actually play.

Trent Frederic is, in theory, supposed to be the face of the Bruins’ toughness department. He did a great job of that early last season but has seen it tail off more recently, and the toughness conversation has ramped back up this season, following a slew of questionable hits on Patrice Bergeron.

Cam Neely is one of the tougher players the organization has ever seen. Does the now-B’s President think his team is doing enough in that regard?

“Obviously, you need great goaltending and health as well (as toughness),” Neely said Wednesday over Zoom. “It’s tough to compare to 2011 to 2021, the game has changed a lot since then. I think you see when Trent Frederic is engaged — you watch him play in Calgary and you’re like, ‘OK, this is a plater who can help contribute and bring some physicality, but also a little skill.’ That line played really well in Calgary, and I don’t see why we can’t see that a little bit more from Trent. I know he’s trying to figure out the game himself.

“I don’t know if when you say ‘toughness’ — I don’t think you’re necessarily talking about fighting, just overall intimidation is something you talk about 2011, you had that not only on the back end, but you had that in the forward group, too. That’s an area that we’ve discussed, if something becomes available that we think could not only help you play but also could bring that element, I don’t think we would be opposed to it, for sure.”

As for who that player is, that’s not totally certain. The Bruins were reported to be interested in Blake Coleman at the 2020 trade deadline but were outbid by the Tampa Bay Lightning, and he’s a guy who brings that edge but also scoring ability. Boston reportedly targeted him again this offseason, and he ended up with the Flames on a long-term deal. That should be something to keep in mind, as it sure seems like a player of that ilk has the Bruins’ attention.

Thumbnail photo via Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports Images
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