Sunday, June 6, 2010
Born on this date in 1965, Cameron "Cam" Neely played his junior hockey for the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League. He gained recognition for his 56 goal, 120 point season in 1982-83 when he led the Winter Hawks to the Memorial Cup championship with 20 points in 14 playoff games, which earned him a 9th overall selection by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft.
1983 Memorial Cup champion Cam Neely
He began the next season with Portland, but after 19 games made his NHL debut with the Canucks. He played well enough, scoring 31 points in 56 games, as well as gaining his first NHL playoff experience with four games in which he scored a pair of goals.
Cam Neely in the Canucks "Flying V" jersey
The next two seasons with Vancouver saw Neely play over 70 games and score 39 and 34 points, Additionally, he showed his rugged side with 137 and 126 penalty minutes. He was however, playing behind veterans Stan Smyl and Tony Tanti and Canucks coach Tom Watt was not a fan of Neely's defensive game, which combined to make Neely expendable in the eyes of the Canucks, who dealt him, also on this date, to the Boston Bruins along with their first pick in the 1987 draft, for former 100 point scorer Barry Pederson.
The change in scenery saw an immediate rise in Neely's production and he scored more goals in his first season in Boston than he did points in Vancouver the year before, and more than doubled his point total from 34 to 72, as the Bruins coaching staff gave him more playing time which led to more confidence.
The 1987-88 season saw a rise in goals to 42 and the first deep playoff run of Neely's career, as the Bruins made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, a run that saw Neely contribute 17 points in 23 games. After a then career best 75 points in 1988-89 before exploding with 55 goals and 92 points in 1989-90 prior to the Bruins making a return to the Stanley Cup Finals later that season. Neely had an excellent playoff season, with 28 points in 21 games.
Proving his 55 goal season was no fluke, Neely lit the lamp 51 times in 1990-91 and registered a second consecutive 90 point season with 91. A knee injury suffered during the conference finals that year would change the course of Neely's career and limit him to just 22 games over the next two seasons combined.
Cam Neely in the 1991-92 Bruins throwback jersey
He rebounded in 1993-94 with 50 goals in his 44th game of the season, a mark only Wayne Gretzky has surpassed. Still suffering from injury problems, Neely was limited to just 49 games that year, leaving many to wonder what his goal total could have reached had he played a full season that year. His ability to return to such a high level of play after essentially missing the previous two seasons earned Neely the Masteron Trophy for 1994.
After two more seasons limited to 42 and 49 games, along with a drop in production to point levels in the 40's, led Neely to call it a career due to a degenerative hip condition.
Neely's #8 was retired by the Bruins in 2004 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005.
Today's featured jersey is a 1989-90 Boston Bruins Cam Neely jersey as worn during Neely's finest season in which he set personal highs with 55 goals and 92 points.
This long-serving Bruins jersey was first used back in 1974 and quickly gained secondary shoulder logos and names on the back by 1977 and then remain essentially unchanged through it's retirement at the end of the 1994-95 season.
Our first video is a very well done look at highlights of the career of Cam Neely.
Here is a unique look at Cam Neely's 50 goals in 44 games - all 50! - in the 1993-94 season.
Finally, Cam Neely shares his favorite work out routine and then expresses his feelings in no uncertain terms regarding the debut of ESPNews.