Cam Neely and Don Sweeney have taken center stage this summer as the most talked about front office in the NHL. They’ve made a variety of moves, some of which have caused the media to go up in flames (*cough cough*, Dougie Hamilton), and others that have helped to restore the confidence of Bruins fans across the hockey world (Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes, for example).
One things for sure, the Boston Bruins will have a much different look to their team when they take the ice on October 8th at TD Garden to kick off their season against the Jets. The Bruins have shipped out key players such as Dougie Hamilton, Milan Lucic, and Reilly Smith, but have brought in exciting names such as Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes.
However, the Bruins’ brass may not be done yet.
“If we have any opportunities come up, we now have the flexibility to act on them,” said Neely, according to CSNNE.com. “If something happens now all the way through training camp where we feel we can improve our club, we have a better chance of adding without saying, ‘Okay, now who do we have to subtract?'”
Last Season’s Troubles Are Behind the Bruins
Neely quietly referenced last season, when the Bruins were in such big cap trouble that they couldn’t possibly make any moves to improve their team when they needed to most.
“When you’re in a position where you have to move someone in order to acquire someone else, you’re really at a pretty big disadvantage. Anytime you’ve got some [cap] space, it’s a good thing.”
Whether or not the Bruins have anything in the works at the moment, Neely has made it clear that they’ll be open to offers well into the future.
If there’s a change coming, it’s probably headed to the Bruins’ blue line, where they have done little to improve since shipping off Hamilton. Neely says that he’s looking forward to watching some of Boston’s defensemen compete for a spot, however, he hasn’t shut out the idea of improving further.
“I’m looking forward to looking at some of the young ‘D’, and seeing if they can embrace the opportunity. But by no means are we closing the books and saying this is what we’ve got [for a roster].”
One of the names that has constantly been mentioned is Cody Franson. Whether or not the Bruins actually make a deal is left for time to tell, However. Boston is clearly in the market for anyone who’s looking to deal.
It was a unique offseason for the Bruins, to say the least. Boston has turned over its general manager position to Don Sweeney, and knew going into the offseason frenzy that certain moves had to be made that would receive some harsh backlash from the media. However, Neely and Sweeney hunkered down, and shielded themselves from the media, in order to continue with their plan.
“Don had a plan that we talked about, that we presented and we really thought we could accomplish,” said Neely. “We knew that it might be a little rocky and bumpy, and we also knew that it would entail [free agency]. There would be plenty of opportunities to second guess (prior to all the moves being made), but we also know that people don’t really know what’s going on inside the four walls [at the Bruins offices], and the conversations that are happening.
“We felt like we had to clean up our cap problems, and get out from under that. We needed a chance to add without subtracting all the time. I think what Don was able to accomplish on July 1, whether it was signing Matt Beleskey or trading for Jimmy Hayes, really assured people that there was some kind of a plan. We weren’t tuned into [the criticism], but we could certainly feel it and were prepared for it.”
Neely Has Confidence in Sweeney
All things considered, Neely has confidence in Sweeney. He’s well aware of the backlash that he’s received, and praises Sweeney for his ability to work through it.
“I think he’s done a fantastic job,” Neely said. “I know it wasn’t easy for him, but you wouldn’t notice it or know that it affected him or bothered him. He kept with the plan he’d put in place, and his work ethic is second to none. His knowledge of the game and players . . . he’s put a lot of time in. I’m not surprised with how he’s handled it, but it was quite an introduction as a new GM.”
Hopefully, the “plan” that Neely has constantly been referring to will work out. Whether or not the Bruins make further moves is up to Neely and Sweeney, but no matter what, it’ll be a much different look for the Bruins next season.
Cam is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. He’s the Boston Bruins Beat Writer at The Hockey Writers, and is an avid college hockey fan. Find him on Twitter @CamHasbrouck!