With the Stanley Cup Finals set to begin tonight there are a lot of articles out there previewing tonight’s Game 1 match-up and the series in general, as well as predictions and general interest pieces on current Canucks and Bruins. We’ve already hit you up with preview links to get you ready so you should be set to go for tonight’s game.
While scouring the internet there were plenty of interesting stories I read but the most fascinating one was probably a piece written by James O’Brien over at ProHockeyTalk.com about the impact of the trade that sent Cam Neely from the Canucks to the Bruins and how it still resonates to this very day. I strongly recommend clicking on the link and reading it.
For those of you too young to remember Cam Neely ever being a Vancouver Canuck or think we’re just crazy and made the whole thing up, which we didn’t, after the jump we’ll let take you back in time…
The year was 1986, the day was June 6, a Friday. Not just any Friday, as it turned out to be. In addition to Neely, the 9th overall pick of the Canucks in the 1983 NHL Draft, being traded that day, June 6th was also the day that Indian actress Bhavana Balachandran died. June 6th also happened to be Neely’s birthday and the native British Columbian, who was born in Comox, B.C., turned 21 on that day. June 6 was a day of death and re-birth. Just like The Lion King.
In his three seasons with the Canucks, Neely had respectable numbers: 51 goals, 53 assists, and 104 points in 201 games played. At the time he was still a young and raw right winger finding his game and nobody could predict he would go on to score 50+ goals in a season three times during his Bruins career.
The trade went down like this: Cam Neely and Vancouver’s 1987 first round pick (Glen Wesley) to Boston for Barry Pederson.
We all now what happened to Neely after becoming a Bruin so there’s no need to re-hash his Hall of Fame career here. At the time, Canuck fans were probably a little pleased with the results they got out of Pederson, who was a pretty awesome scorer himself in the early part of his career in Boston where he scored over 100 points in two of his first three full seasons. He would later go on to make a bit of a scoring impact for the Canucks but would eventually get traded to the Penguins in 1990.
The fun part of this story, well not so fun if you’re a Canucks fan, is what the Bruins would eventually turn Wesley, who made the all-star team as Bruin, into through trades.
Based on the timeline used over at ProHockeyTalk.com:
-Wesley would get traded in 1994 to the Hartford Whalers for their 1994, 1995 and 1996 first round picks! The Bruins would select with those picks, Kyle McLaren, Jonathan Aitken and Sergei Samsonov, respectively.
-In what seems like an insignificant trade as you read this right now, McLaren, along with a 2004 forth round pick (Torry Mitchell) were traded to San Jose for Jeff Jilson and Jeff Hackett.
-Samsonov had some useful years for the Bruins playing alongside Joe Thornton but he would later be dealt to the Oilers for Yan Stastny, Marty Reasoner and a second round pick that would later be used to select Milan Lucic!
-Jeff Jilson was traded for Brad Boyes who would eventually be traded for Dennis Wideman who would then be traded, along with a first round pick in 2010 (Derek Fortbort) for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell.
So, in the end, the Neely trade indirectly helped shape the current look of the Bruins roster as the Bruins were able to swap Wesley for assets and then swap those assets into Lucic and Horton, who are two of the Bruins top players, and two players who may wind up playing a huge role in trying to get the Canucks to lose another Stanley Cup.
Nobody could have projected Neely’s eventual career but Canucks management at the time didn’t really practice much patience when it came to the then young forward who was selected in the top ten of his draft. You also can’t blame Canucks fans for cursing out the trade to this very day, especially if Lucic and Horton play a significant part in taking down the Canucks.