Neely wants birthday win for Bruins

Cam Neely (QMI Agency file photo)

Cam Neely (QMI Agency file photo)

Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:02 PM ET

VANCOUVER - Cam Neely's mind is definitely as sharp today as it was back in 1986, but even he admits his bones are much creakier.

"Mentally, it doesn't seem like that long ago," said the president of the Boston Bruins. "But physically, it certainly does." 

It has been a quarter of a century since Neely, a young up-and-coming power forward at the time, was dealt by the Vancouver Canucks to Boston, where he pieced together a Hall of Fame career that featured a rare mixture of hustle and muscle.

In an interesting angle to the 2011 Stanley Cup final, Monday will mark the 25th anniversary of the trade that sent Neely and a first-round draft pick (used to take Glen Wesley one year later) to the Bruins for forward Barry Pederson. 

It is also Neely's birthday. 

And it is also the date for Game 3 of the dramatic series between the Bruins and Canucks in Boston. 

Add it all up, and all Cam Neely wants for his birthday/anniversary is a Bruins win that would narrow their deficit in the final against the Canucks to 2-1, thank you very much.

 It will, Neely admits, be a "special day," one filled with memories, well wishes and, in a perfect world, a favourable margin of victory on the scoreboard for Boston.

Neely, who grew up in nearby Maple Ridge B.C., makes no excuses for the fact that he was still a young raw player with a number of unrefined warts in his game at the time of the swap which, from a Vancouver point of view, has to be considered one of the poorer trades in NHL history.

On the other hand, that deal, which took place on June 6, 1986, was a steal for Boston thanks to then-Bruins general manager Harry Sinden, who saw something in the kid that he liked and acted quickly to pull the trigger.

"What happened was, Barry Pederson was a free agent and I couldn't sign him," Sinden explained the other day.

"He was threatening to go elsewhere. Vancouver had really never done anything in the league, never had a decent year and they were really interested in Barry because he was from Vancouver and they felt he was just what they needed."

Looking to acquire Pederson from Boston, the Canucks presented Sinden with a cache of three players and told him to pick one.

"My chief scout lived in Vancouver and we knew a lot about Neely," Sinden said. "We had Neely rated so high in his draft year and on all our scouting reports.

"Even though he was on the bench for Vancouver, when his name was on that list of three players, we had no hesitation making the deal. And it's worked out.

" It's still working out today."

Neely hopes things work out just as well on Monday, especially on the scoreboard. After all, watching his Bruins post their first win over his former team in this best-of-seven Stanley Cup final would be the best birthday/anniversary present of all.

Mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

Twitter.com/zeisberger

 


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