Saturday, June 11, 2005

Mr. Bruin

Damned if I didn't almost forget that he began his career as a Vancouver Canuck, forced to wear that god-awful multicolor V-neck sweater that looked like something out of a 1970s Montgomery Ward catalog.

It seems so strange, so foreign and inappropriate now, for Cam Neely will always and forever be remembered as Mr. Black And Gold. He was the epitome of what a Boston Bruin is supposed to be, the living, breathing realization of everything the Gallery Gods demanded and hoped for from their heroes.

He was tough and proud and selfless and graceful and violent and passionate and damn fun to watch. . . the absolute perfect hockey player in a time when the Bruins meant something in this city. He was the ideal Boston athlete, liked and admired by all, and his tireless charitable efforts have only enhanced his image.

The lingering lament, for us, and surely for him too, is that it ended abruptly, unfairly. Injuries and malicious opponents robbed Neely of too much of his prime, and his career ended many shifts too soon. You had to wonder if history would remember him the way he deserves.

A few days ago, we found out it will. Cam Neely is among the Hockey Hall of Fame's 2005 class. He will rightfully be remembered as a hockey legend for all time.

Around here, such a legacy was secured long ago.