Cam Neely was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame today. Traded to the Bruins in 1986, Cam quickly became a fan favorite in Boston and was a hero to many young men including myself. I have fond memories of my dad letting me stay up late with him to watch bruins games in the late 80’s.
Powered by Neely and Bourke and supported by guys like Lyndon Byers, Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin, my preteen self looked up to these guys as role models because, like my father, they were guys you could relate to. If they were not playing hockey, they’d be construction workers or mechanics. Fans identified with these players and owners knew it. Games were affordable, players were not grossly overpaid and the games were way more entertaining.
Today, I can’t stand hockey. The 2004 hold-out was the nail in the coffin, but for many years, hockey has been moving away from its “rugged” routes. Driven by profits and developing young players too quickly, the league becomes more like the NBA every day. I hope the NHL realizes their errors and corrects them before its fan base moves on for good.