Boston Bruins President Cam Neely isn’t happy his team got hosed in the NHL’s Return To Play plan, but he also understands nothing was going to be perfect and the Bruins are still favorites to hoist the 2020 Stanley Cup.
In a recent Zoom call with the media, Neely made it clear that he and the Boston Bruins organization are not happy with the fact that despite finishing atop the NHL standings (44-14-12, 100 points) in points and points percentage, the Bruins will still have to play a round-robin tournament that determines their seeding in the 2020 24-team Stanley Cup playoff tournament.
“Obviously a little disappointed,” Neely said. “With what the team was able to accomplish in the first 70 games, and then kind of the point spread between not only the teams in our division but the teams in our conference, to kind of maybe have three games dictate where we fall in the conference standings is somewhat disappointing. But the fact remains these are unchartered times for everybody, and we’re just hoping we can eventually get back on the ice and play meaningful hockey games. I expressed my feelings about where it was headed, but for the good of the game, this is what they thought was best.”
Neely’s compassion and understanding of dire times thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic helped the usually emotional, blunt, and outspoken Hall of Famer accept his team’s playoff fate.
Regardless of where the Boston Bruins are eventually seeded, they will be a force. After a gut-wrenching loss to the St. Louis Blues on home ice in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final last June, the Bruins pretty much ran the gauntlet through 70 games of the 2019-20 regular season until the season was paused on March 12 thanks to the COVID19 outbreak. Knowing how poised they still are to redeem themselves from last year, Neely is excited about his team’s chances and the vibe he’s still getting from the players.
“I know we’ve got a group of guys that are very dedicated and committed and obviously knew where the team was at the pause and what the possibilities were going into the playoffs,” said Neely. “Nothing is a guarantee as we all know, but I think our guys recognized we had a legitimate chance to do well and make a deep run in the playoffs. Our goal all along is to win Stanley Cups. That goal is not going to change.
Boston Hockey Now has talked to some of the players. They’re anxious and excited. They still have some questions and concerns about how this is all going to play out, but everyone always wants to play hockey. I felt that the players would be amped and ready to go whether there were round-robin games or play-in games during the playoffs while knowing other teams were playing competitive games. I understood why they landed on 24 [teams]. I just would have liked it without the round-robin for the top four seeds.”