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Cam Neely - Just how good was he in his prime?

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Old
06-28-2010, 11:07 PM
  #51
Bergie37
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cam neely is unlike anyone today. iginla, as others have said, is the closest. but neely had this knack for scoring big goals, and he was a much more feared hitter (probably not because he was a better hitter, but because he did it a lot more often). eventually, guys like bertuzzi and thornton become perimeter players and rely on their skill instead of the power games that originally made them such special players. neely had the ability to play a more purely skill game, but he never did this, which shortened his career. i give him a lot of respect for that.

with iginla, he will score his goals. but in the third period of a close game, there's not the same feeling of inevitability that if he gets the puck on his stick, it's going into the back of the net. neely was one hell of a dangerous scorer, especially in the playoffs. i was a habs fan in the late 80s, and neely was the one guy in the eastern conference who scared patrick roy. scared the hell out of me too. until samuelsson, you really got the sense that cam was unstoppable when he wanted to be... which was all the time.
I completely agree with this sentiment. I grew up watching the B's with my father and while I agree here, there was definitely more that captured the hearts of his fans. Cam was a class act all the way, unselfish, and willing to sacrifice. Cam policed the game like as if his teammates were his younger brothers and he was out to protect them from playground bullies. As for scoring, I can remember several times that Neely would deflect in a younger teammates shot, then go straight to the scorers booth and make sure the young guy got credit for the goal. The guy lived for his team and his teammates and always left it all out on the ice.

My personal respect for the guy goes beyond the kind of player he was. Bruins games back then were the only times my father and I shared any kind of a bond. They were the only times I knew I could come within 10 feet of dad without getting the tar beaten out of me for no reason at all. Instead of a punch to the face, I got a lesson in how players like Neely and Bourque played the game the way it should be. I was taught about the Montreal rivalry and how they always skated and passed at a level higher than the rest of the league. I also got to listen to stories about the pure skill of players like LaFleur and Orr. While I'd like to thank my father for my love of the game, I stop to think about the weekly psychotherapy, I think about the various medications I need to take every day just so I can leave my house, and I remember to thank the guy that I really looked up to, Cam Neely. I cried harder than he he did when he made his retirement speach.

*I apologize for being so open about my life. This wasn't meant to seek attention or pity, rather an attempt to give my account of what it meant to me to see one of the classiest guys of the 80's play the game. If I've offended anyone or if anyone feels this is too much info, I'll be happy to delete my post.

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06-29-2010, 10:14 AM
  #52
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Neely in some aspects:

Shooting: Electric. Possessed a great release and very accurate. I've seen clips of Patrick Roy being asked about Neely and he actually smiles respectfully when talking about him.

Passing: Ordinary. He was so intent on taking the puck to the net when carrying it that it he often just bulled his way and didn't look to set up others. Power and finishing were his forte and he knew it.

Skating: Pre-Ulf he was a great power skater. His straight ahead speed was ordinary, but he owned a great stride and balance.

Bodychecking: Again, pre-Ulf he was a body snatcher of first form. The power skating and balance left him upright after hellacious collisions. Most of his best hits were along the boards and not the Scott Stevens open ice variety.

Defense: Sound positionally and very responsible, but lacked the Bobby Clarke - Bob Gainey instinct for reading plays. Then again, most scorers lack this skill or at least it's not expected of them.

Leadership: Off the charts. Stood up for teammates (including Bourque). Was a fierce competitor and could have been a solid NHLer even without the first rate shooting skills. He was never a useless rah rah guy, but lead by example and dedication.

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06-29-2010, 11:04 AM
  #53
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Good, not great. Kevin Stevens was a better power forward....

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06-29-2010, 11:28 AM
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Good, not great. Kevin Stevens was a better power forward....

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06-29-2010, 11:43 AM
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Originally Posted by edog37 View Post
Good, not great. Kevin Stevens was a better power forward....
You're kidding, right?

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06-29-2010, 11:51 AM
  #56
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Best power forward for almost a decade. John Leclair was close to Cam, but if he had cam's passion for the game, he certainly didnt show it.

Nobody compared, IMO.

For a big man, he had incredible finesse and hockey sense.


IMO his 1994 season was by far his best, and it was basically on one leg.
I don't see how anyone that saw Cam's career could possibly say this....

Sure that year was his most consistent goal scoring year, (50 in 44), but he had become a one dimensional player.

Oates just took advantage of Neely's sniper-like shot and fed him the puck, (much as he had done with Hull).

But from '87 to '91 Cam was so much more. He was a game altering physical presence every shift. Digging the puck out of corners. Hitting anybody that dared to try to patrol his wing for loose pucks. All this while leading the Bruins in goal scoring year after year, (42, 37, 55, 51), (finishing top three in the league in his two 50+ years).

There is just no way that Cam '94 season, as incredible as it was, can be seen as one of his most effective overall years. He was only playing every other game or so, and, (as you noted), he was essentially skating on one leg.

In a way it cemented his astonishing skill level that he was able to transform himself into a completely different player out of necessity, and score 50+ goals again/anyway. But really it was nothing more than a swan song to the player he once was.


Incidentally; I uploaded a video of his 50 in 44 from '94 to youtube that is fun to watch...



For those that never saw Cam's prime, (which this certainly was not), there are flashes of his old ways, scoring on the rush in number's 6 and 36, shooting from his wing in numbers 11, 15, 26.....

Anyway. Enjoy. It mostly depresses me to tell you the truth, lol.


Last edited by lextune: 06-29-2010 at 12:07 PM. Reason: Added video
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06-29-2010, 11:56 AM
  #57
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Originally Posted by edog37 View Post
Good, not great. Kevin Stevens was a better power forward....
Stevens had Mario bouncing puck in off his backside and he maxed out at 55 goals. Cam hit 55 playing with Craig Janney.

...and years later, on one leg, he scored 50 in 44 with Oates. Now I loved Oates, but he was no Lemieux.

What do you think Neely would have netted playing with Mario in their primes like Stevens did? 70+ goals; without question.

He would have been Mario's Kurri. Pittsburgh's GM would have traded his wife, children and Kevin Stevens for Cam.

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06-29-2010, 12:25 PM
  #58
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Cam Neely 1993-94

Cam Neely 1993-94. Somewhat like Bobby Orr's 1974-75. Not the raw instinctive beauty and power of the 1970-71 season but a more refined and maturing player with the specter of one knee or leg injury away from retirement.

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06-29-2010, 12:28 PM
  #59
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Originally Posted by lextune View Post
I don't see how anyone that saw Cam's career could possibly say this....

Sure that year was his most consistent goal scoring year, (50 in 44), but he had become a one dimensional player.

Oates just took advantage of Neely's sniper-like shot and fed him the puck, (much as he had done with Hull).

But from '87 to '91 Cam was so much more. He was a game altering physical presence every shift. Digging the puck out of corners. Hitting anybody that dared to try to patrol his wing for loose pucks. All this while leading the Bruins in goal scoring year after year, (42, 37, 55, 51), (finishing top three in the league in his two 50+ years).

There is just no way that Cam '94 season, as incredible as it was, can be seen as one of his most effective overall years. He was only playing every other game or so, and, (as you noted), he was essentially skating on one leg.

In a way it cemented his astonishing skill level that he was able to transform himself into a completely different player out of necessity, and score 50+ goals again/anyway. But really it was nothing more than a swan song to the player he once was.


Incidentally; I uploaded a video of his 50 in 44 from '94 to youtube that is fun to watch...



For those that never saw Cam's prime, (which this certainly was not), there are flashes of his old ways, scoring on the rush in number's 6 and 36, shooting from his wing in numbers 11, 15, 26.....

Anyway. Enjoy. It mostly depresses me to tell you the truth, lol.
I can agree wtih this one. Neely was much better in late 80s early 90s. He was a force in even strength. It's really a shame his career go cut short, I for one would have wanted to see him past the age of 30.

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Good, not great. Kevin Stevens was a better power forward....
I don't get the Stevens thing though. Stevens wasn't as good a power forward as the others. Shanny, Neely or even Tocchet. Steven was more of an agitator the way he played and were mostly about stick work while the others were more body work. If you guys know what I mean. Atleast thats my memory of him.

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06-29-2010, 12:45 PM
  #60
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The issue with Cam Neely and the Hall for so many years was not his peak, which was stellar, but endurance. He didn't maintain a high level of play for a decade. He was at the top of the league for just five seasons in a row, then had two very down years, then one last strong year before injuries sapped him again.

Cam Neely was dominating at his height, but it's incorrect to say that he was the game's premier player of that type for a solid decade. He was only consistently that guy for five years, then injuries tore up his playing time and production. When he played, he was outstanding, though. Great physical play, great shot and offensive instincts, and a tough fighter.

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06-29-2010, 12:51 PM
  #61
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Originally Posted by lextune View Post
Stevens had Mario bouncing puck in off his backside and he maxed out at 55 goals. Cam hit 55 playing with Craig Janney.

...and years later, on one leg, he scored 50 in 44 with Oates. Now I loved Oates, but he was no Lemieux.

What do you think Neely would have netted playing with Mario in their primes like Stevens did? 70+ goals; without question.

He would have been Mario's Kurri. Pittsburgh's GM would have traded his wife, children and Kevin Stevens for Cam.
in 90/91 when Lemieux was sidelined for most of the regular season, Stevens had 40 playing with John Cullen.....

He torched the Bruins (& Cam Neely) in both Wales Conference Final series.

I never said Neely sucked, I said he was good, but not great. Stevens had more points in his career & in the playoffs than Neely & both were comparable players. Both suffered major injuries that effectively ended their careers. It's ridiculous that the HOF inducted Neely, but he is there. Neither is HOF qualified in my view.

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06-29-2010, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by edog37 View Post
in 90/91 when Lemieux was sidelined for most of the regular season, Stevens had 40 playing with John Cullen.....

He torched the Bruins (& Cam Neely) in both Wales Conference Final series.

I never said Neely sucked, I said he was good, but not great. Stevens had more points in his career & in the playoffs than Neely & both were comparable players. Both suffered major injuries that effectively ended their careers. It's ridiculous that the HOF inducted Neely, but he is there. Neither is HOF qualified in my view.
Agreed. In their primes there wasn't much seperating them and that's what Neely's entire legacy is based on.

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06-29-2010, 01:26 PM
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He torched the Bruins (& Cam Neely) in both Wales Conference Final series.
Wrong.

First of all; Cam didn't even play in the '92 Wales Conference Final. He was still out injured from the cheap shot that Ulf gave him in the '91 final. Sort of strains your credibility to start with....but anyway....

In the '91 final Cam utterly dominated the first two games, (before Ulf), scoring his 13th, 14th and 15th goals of the post-season. The Pens could do absolutely nothing to stop him. In fact I clearly recall Barrasso standing on his head a number of times, or else Neely could have easily had 5 or 6 goals through the first two games. (Mario said in a number of interviews after the playoffs that Barrasso should have won the Symthe, going so far as to specifically mention him holding the Pens in it against the Bruins).

And after Ulf did what he did.....Lemieux and Jagr had just as much, if not more, to do with the Pens comeback than Stevens.

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It's ridiculous that the HOF inducted Neely
Actually it would have been ridiculous if they hadn't.

I seriously doubt you actually saw Neely play, and if you did, you clearly did not have a very good grasp on hockey.

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06-29-2010, 01:27 PM
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Agreed. In their primes there wasn't much seperating them and that's what Neely's entire legacy is based on.
Stevens in his prime was an excellent player. He rightfully earned his post season all-star teams. Without his injury and personal problems, he could have had a long and very successful career.

Can Neely scared the crap out of anyone who played against him. He was a freakiní force of nature.

Thatís the difference. I have no problem with Neely in the Hall, because Iíve never seen a package of high end skills, and punishing physical attributes. There is no proper comparison in todayís game to Cam, and I guess Howe would have been the only other player to combine those 2 things (much more successfully obviously).

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06-29-2010, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by JaymzB View Post
Stevens in his prime was an excellent player. He rightfully earned his post season all-star teams. Without his injury and personal problems, he could have had a long and very successful career.

Can Neely scared the crap out of anyone who played against him. He was a freakiní force of nature.

Thatís the difference. I have no problem with Neely in the Hall, because Iíve never seen a package of high end skills, and punishing physical attributes. There is no proper comparison in todayís game to Cam, and I guess Howe would have been the only other player to combine those 2 things (much more successfully obviously).
I fully agree with Neely being in the HOF and I find it laughable that there are Kevin Stevens comparisons. But I think it's a bit hyperbolic to say that Howe is the only one to combine high end skills and punishing physical attributes. Without making a long list, you have to look no further than the OP; Lindros combined them both, and at his best was ahead of Neely's best by a fair amount. Not a ton, but enough that I think even Lextune will admit Lindros was the superior player! And he's one of the biggest Neely supporters you'll find (not taking a shot at Lextune, just saying).

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06-29-2010, 01:53 PM
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Stevens in his prime was an excellent player. He rightfully earned his post season all-star teams. Without his injury and personal problems, he could have had a long and very successful career.

Can Neely scared the crap out of anyone who played against him. He was a freakiní force of nature.

Thatís the difference. I have no problem with Neely in the Hall, because Iíve never seen a package of high end skills, and punishing physical attributes. There is no proper comparison in todayís game to Cam, and I guess Howe would have been the only other player to combine those 2 things (much more successfully obviously).
So you never watched Lindros?

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06-29-2010, 02:07 PM
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I fully agree with Neely being in the HOF and I find it laughable that there are Kevin Stevens comparisons. But I think it's a bit hyperbolic to say that Howe is the only one to combine high end skills and punishing physical attributes. Without making a long list, you have to look no further than the OP; Lindros combined them both, and at his best was ahead of Neely's best by a fair amount. Not a ton, but enough that I think even Lextune will admit Lindros was the superior player! And he's one of the biggest Neely supporters you'll find (not taking a shot at Lextune, just saying).
Hmm...thats not as cut and dried as portrayed. Lindros was a better all around player, he did everthing at a high level- Neely was a better pure goal scorer. They guy was on a goal a game pace coming off injuries. If he never had the career ending injuries, he could have threatened 70-80 goals.

They both battled injuries and were special players and I think that sums it up best.

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06-29-2010, 02:18 PM
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Wrong.

First of all; Cam didn't even play in the '92 Wales Conference Final. He was still out injured from the cheap shot that Ulf gave him in the '91 final. Sort of strains your credibility to start with....but anyway.....
I said that Stevens torched the Bruins in both Wales Conference Finals...yes, Neely did not play in '92, bad grammar on my part.....

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Originally Posted by lextune View Post
In the '91 final Cam utterly dominated the first two games, (before Ulf), scoring his 13th, 14th and 15th goals of the post-season. The Pens could do absolutely nothing to stop him. In fact I clearly recall Barrasso standing on his head a number of times, or else Neely could have easily had 5 or 6 goals through the first two games. (Mario said in a number of interviews after the playoffs that Barrasso should have won the Symthe, going so far as to specifically mention him holding the Pens in it against the Bruins). .
Now, who is engaging in revisionist history. Neely scored, but to say he dominated stretches your credibility a ton. The first game wasn't close, but Game 2 was only won by a questionable call that gave a Boston a 5 on 3 after the Pens went up with a few minutes left & subsequent OT goal by Ruzicka. Stevens guaranteed 4 straight, after which the Pens got it done in rather convincing fashion.

Mario said what he did after the '92 Cup, not the '91. Barrasso was a beast in '92, but in '91 he missed quite a few games.

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And after Ulf did what he did.....Lemieux and Jagr had just as much, if not more, to do with the Pens comeback than Stevens..
Gee, you think....Lemieux only won the Smythe that year. Jagr was largely a non-factor since he was a third line rookie. Stevens lit up the Bruins.

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I seriously doubt you actually saw Neely play, and if you did, you clearly did not have a very good grasp on hockey.
Doubt all you want, I've been watching hockey for over 30 years & I have seen Neely play. I never said Neely was a bad player, he wasn't, but like Stevens, doesn't merit a spot in the HOF. They were comparable players who happened to have good leadership qualities, some really good seasons & had their careers shortened by major injury. If you think Neely belongs in the conversation as say Esposito, Orr, Bucyk, Cashmann & Shore, that's your opinion. But that would be like me saying I place Stevens in the same category as Lemieux, Jagr, Francis, Murphy & Coffey. I just can't do it with a straight face no matter how much I want to wear the homer glasses.....

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06-29-2010, 02:37 PM
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Cam Neely was the second best power forward(RWer) that I have had the pleasure to watch. Best being Gordie Howe.

The major difference was that Cam Neely did not have a chance to develop his game and see it mature like Gordie Howe did.
Do you not consider Iginla a true power forward or do you just think Cam had more natural talent? I only really started paying attention to hockey towards the end of Cam's career, so I have an incomplete picture of him. On paper, his career was not really close to as good as Iginla's, though.

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06-29-2010, 02:50 PM
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Do you not consider Iginla a true power forward or do you just think Cam had more natural talent? I only really started paying attention to hockey towards the end of Cam's career, so I have an incomplete picture of him. On paper, his career was not really close to as good as Iginla's, though.
It's more about how much he brought to the ice. He was a dominating power forward. Who went straight to the net and scored goals even if he was hacked, slashed and crosschecked to pieces on the way there. Ofcourse he is widely romantizised after he retired but he was great even though not winning the hardware Iginla did. Think Iginla but with more intensity every shift.

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06-29-2010, 03:19 PM
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Neely vs Iginla

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Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
Do you not consider Iginla a true power forward or do you just think Cam had more natural talent? I only really started paying attention to hockey towards the end of Cam's career, so I have an incomplete picture of him. On paper, his career was not really close to as good as Iginla's, though.
Not sure what you mean by a true power forward. In the context of today's game Iginla is as close as you will get to a classic power forward. During Neely's career the shifts were longer and the 4th line was less of a factor. So during the course of a shift or a game the power and strength element had a greater impact than today where during many of the 30-45 second shifts the power element does not enter into play.

More natural talent? Cam Neely had the ability to find or create open space on offense. Given that he played half of his games in the smaller Boston Garden this was a major plus. Iginla has similar attributes but he is not as consistent plus he can be taken off his game.In fairness to Iginla this tends to happen when he has weaker linemates, frustration sets in and he tries to do too much as opposed to playing his game.

The major difference is when you look beyond the stats. Cam Neely like Gordie Howe, Mark Messier and a few others had a presence on the ice - an aura of control and invincibility. Iginla never did.

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06-29-2010, 03:24 PM
  #72
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Originally Posted by lextune View Post
I don't see how anyone that saw Cam's career could possibly say this....

Sure that year was his most consistent goal scoring year, (50 in 44), but he had become a one dimensional player.

Oates just took advantage of Neely's sniper-like shot and fed him the puck, (much as he had done with Hull).

But from '87 to '91 Cam was so much more. He was a game altering physical presence every shift. Digging the puck out of corners. Hitting anybody that dared to try to patrol his wing for loose pucks. All this while leading the Bruins in goal scoring year after year, (42, 37, 55, 51), (finishing top three in the league in his two 50+ years).

There is just no way that Cam '94 season, as incredible as it was, can be seen as one of his most effective overall years. He was only playing every other game or so, and, (as you noted), he was essentially skating on one leg.

In a way it cemented his astonishing skill level that he was able to transform himself into a completely different player out of necessity, and score 50+ goals again/anyway. But really it was nothing more than a swan song to the player he once was.


Incidentally; I uploaded a video of his 50 in 44 from '94 to youtube that is fun to watch...



For those that never saw Cam's prime, (which this certainly was not), there are flashes of his old ways, scoring on the rush in number's 6 and 36, shooting from his wing in numbers 11, 15, 26.....

Anyway. Enjoy. It mostly depresses me to tell you the truth, lol.
You're right. The whole point was that it was on one leg. While it was sad to see him in constant pain and favor the leg, it was a magical season.

I guess what I mean to say that it was his most "remarkable" season

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06-29-2010, 03:41 PM
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Not sure what you mean by a true power forward.

The major difference is when you look beyond the stats. Cam Neely like Gordie Howe, Mark Messier and a few others had a presence on the ice - an aura of control and invincibility. Iginla never did.
This is more or less what I meant by "true power forward." Someone who was just as good at beating you up as scoring. An "aura of invincibility" as it were.

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06-29-2010, 08:30 PM
  #74
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Lindros combined them both, and at his best was ahead of Neely's best by a fair amount. Not a ton, but enough that I think even Lextune will admit Lindros was the superior player! And he's one of the biggest Neely supporters you'll find (not taking a shot at Lextune, just saying).
lol....you are correct. I don't think there can be any debate about it.

Neely is to Lindros what Stevens is to Neely.

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06-29-2010, 08:42 PM
  #75
lextune
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Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Massachusetts
Country: United States
Posts: 9,494
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Quote:
Originally Posted by edog37 View Post
Now, who is engaging in revisionist history. Neely scored, but to say he dominated stretches your credibility a ton. The first game wasn't close
....*sigh*....

Wrong again I'm afraid. The first game was still a one goal game with less than 5 minutes left in the 2nd period.

How is that not close?

(....at which point Cam scored by the way, to give the B's a two goal lead).

It is not revisionist history to say Cam dominated the first two games, because he did.

In fact he pretty much dominated every game that entire playoff run. He had 15 goals in 15 games, and was consistently the most physical player on the ice when Ulf took him out.

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