The question came from a reporter who’s frequently on the Boston Bruins beat to Hall of Famer Cam Neely yesterday after the press conference announcing the plans for the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park.
Could Neely hit the red seat in the Fenway bleachers with a slap shot?
“Not from home plate,” Neely quickly responded with a smile.
At this point Neely was standing in the area Dustin Pedroia patrols on a nightly basis around second base during the summer. It’s possible that from there he might be able to land one in the bleachers and he might get a chance to take that shot in the days leading up to the Classic.
“I’m going to sneak out here, no question. I’m strapping on the blades, absolutely. I have to do that,” Neely said about taking a spin on the outdoor rink once its built for the Boston-Philadelphia New Year’s Day spectacle.
A veteran of 726 NHL regular season games and 93 postseason contests, Neely, now the Bruins’ vice president, obviously never got a chance to play in an outdoor game, which only became an every-year occurrence the last couple seasons.
“I would have loved to have played in a game like this, there’s no question. I don’t think there isn’t a player today or past that wouldn’t have loved to play in this game,” he said.
Neely said this will also be a great opportunity for the city and fans to be a part of this historic occasion, with public skating planned for the rink. And then on New Year’s Day the Bruins-Flyers rivalry should get renewed with a typical hard-nosed matchup.
“I certainly would expect it to be. It’s a game that points are available and up for grabs. Obviously it’s going to be a lot different with everything surrounding he outdoor game but it’s going to be a spirited hockey game, that’s for sure. It better be,” said Neely.
As a front-office employee now, Neely obviously has other interests about the Winter Classic beyond the history it will make and the two points that will be on the line. The Bruins winning the right to host the NHL’s marquee event proves that the Black and Gold have made Boston a hockey town again.
“This is so great for the organization, it’s great for our fans,” Neely explained. “We’ve kind of been working our way out of where we were maybe up until the last couple years. And I think this is just another great stepping stone for us to get back to being relevant in not only the local market here but just league-wide. It’s been a great couple years and the experience that our guys gotten with the way that we played the last couple years has been fantastic. And then to add this game and for our guys to be proud to be Boston Bruins and represent us the way we want them to represent us has been fantastic.”