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Cam Neely's comeback attempt in 1998-99 with Boston

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04-20-2017, 07:39 AM
Michael Whiteacre
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Cam Neely's comeback attempt in 1998-99 with Boston

Apparently, it's been forgotten that even though he retired after '95-'96 due to knee problems and chronic hip pain (for which Neely got surgery for after retirement), Cam Neely attempted to make a comeback in 1998 with the Boston Bruins in November of '98-'99, only to abort the comeback attempt because he felt he couldn't skate or move the way he wanted to, so he called it off.

In '98-'99, Boston had Steve Heinze as their top RW throughout the year, so the first line was composed of Jason Allison at C, Sergei Samsonov at LW and Heinze at RW, while their second line was composed of a young Joe Thornton at C, P.J. Axelsson at LW and Cameron Mann at RW. The third line was Anson Carter at C, Dmitri Khristich at LW and Landon Wilson at RW, while the fourth line was Rob DiMaio at C, Ted Donato at LW and a natural LW guising at RW since Boston in '98-'99 only had three natural right wingers and too many wingers able to play the left side.

Let's say if Cam Neely decided that a comeback attempt was worth it, then Boston would've had at least four proper RW players. Remember, Neely still had plenty of gas left in the tank in terms of productive point scoring, with 26 goals and 20 assists for 46 points in 49 games, which is pretty impressive to go with a +3 rating and 191 shots on goal.

I reckon the returning Cam Neely would've made a massive upgrade on Steve Heinze, since Boston circa '98-'99 may very well have had Cam Neely at RW on the first line, meshing with Jason Allison and Sergei Samsonov, bumping Heinze down to the second line RW with Joe Thornton and P.J. Axelsson, in turn bumping Cameron Mann down the third line with Anson Carter and Dmitri Khristich, and in turn bumping Landon Wilson down the fourth line with Rob DiMaio and Ted Donato as the definite fourth-line RW. And assuming Neely would have been inserted on the first line next to Allison and Samsonov, how many goals and assists do you think Cam Neely would have posted in his comeback season in '98-'99 once he got his hip repaired, along with his +/- rating and shots on goal for varying shooting percentage?

Last edited by Michael Whiteacre: 04-20-2017 at 01:50 PM.
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04-21-2017, 10:44 PM
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This was one of the most exciting times of my life back then. I really thought he was coming back. It broke my 17 year old heart that he didn't.

I fully expected him to put up 60 points and 30-40 goals if he played that year. Expected him to miss back-to-back games and play tons of PP time. I'll never forget that time.

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