On this day in 1986, the Vancouver Canucks trade Cam Neely to the Boston Bruins
3 months ago
On this day in 1986, the Vancouver Canucks traded forward Cam Neely and a first-round pick in 1987 to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Barry Pederson.
For Neely, who was taken ninth overall in 1983, getting to play for the team you grew up watching was a dream come true, and in just a few short years, he’d be on his way to becoming one of the most dominant power forwards of his generation.
Canucks head coach Tom Watt grew to view Neely’s play as underwhelming despite the forward having scored 120 points in his final season with the Portland Winterhawks. Despite his 126 penalty minutes, they wanted more grit and defensive skills from the young forward.
On the other hand, Pederson was moving up in the ranks as a premier young goal scorer in Boston but was coming off a year of shoulder surgeries, leading the organization to become concerned with his long-term potential with the team. The Bruins, meanwhile, was looking for someone to fit into the mold with a more physical style of play while acquiring some future assets.
On Neely’s 21st birthday, he was sent off to Boston and in years to come, the Vancouver market would be left shaking their heads. Neely described not only the week but the entire year as a disaster, as The Province’s Patrick Johnston reported. He’d found out just days before that both his parents had been diagnosed with cancer.
The Bruins gave Neely something he wasn’t receiving in Vancouver — more ice time — which allowed the winger to shine offensively. In his first year with the club, he doubled what he produced in his last season with the Canucks scoring 36 goals and 72 points while still spending 143 minutes in the sin bin.
Neely told Vancouver Sun reporter Mike Beamish that he and Watt weren’t on the same page in Vancouver, which resulted in the turning point of his career in Bean Town.
“I don’t know what the reason was,” Neely explained, “but Tom just didn’t have a lot of confidence in me, and I began to lose confidence in myself.
“I went to him a few times to talk about it, but I could never read him.”
The forward had a successful decade-long career in Boston, leading his team in scoring several times earning himself the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication in 1994. Neely became the perfect example to never underestimate a player because, who knows, maybe one day they’ll end up in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Pederson also succeeded in Vancouver, hitting the 70-point mark twice before being traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 1989-1990 season. Both forwards would face injuries that would cut their careers shorter than expected. Pedersen retired in 1992, while Neely retired in 1996, keeping his legacy alive now as the Bruins president.
Boston’s first-round pick became all-star defenceman Glen Wesley, who played with the B’s for several years, scoring two memorable goals during the Boston versus Oilers 1988 fog game, before being traded in 1994 to the Hartford Whalers and eventually making his way to the Carolina Hurricanes in 1997.
Aleena Aksenchuk is an intern with Oilersnation and the Nation Network. She can be found on Twitter at @A_Aksenchuk8
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