This Month in Boston Bruins History: Cam Neely, the Trade, and the Hall of Fame

KP WeeSenior Writer IJune 16, 2008

The Hall of Fame class of 2008 will be announced on Tuesday, so it's time to look back on one of the members of the 2005 class: Cam Neelt

This former Bruin was selected for the Hockey Hall of Fame three years ago this month, and he joined the B's in a trade 22 years earlier this month as well.

Let's take a look back.

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One of the best trades in Boston Bruins history took place on June 6, 1986, when the B's shipped five-year veteran Barry Pederson to the Vancouver Canucks for a 21-year-old forward and a draft pick.

Pederson, a 25-year-old center from Saskatchewan, had already put together a pair of 44-goal seasons—as well as a 39-goal campaign in 1983-84.

The youngster going to the Bruins, however, would turn out to be even better, though the Canucks didn't know it at the time.

Cam Neely, celebrating his 21st birthday, was sent from his hometown Canucks to Boston, and the rest was history.

Neely went on to become the NHL's premier power forward of his era, combining a goal-scoring touch with physical play in becoming a Bruins legend.

Not only did Neely have an accurate shot and could score timely goals, he could dish out big hits and fight the tough guys as well. He was the very definition of a "power forward."

Neely scored 36 goals in his first season with the Bruins in 1986-87, and following that up with 42, 37, 55, and 51 goals over the next four seasons.

The Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1988, but fell to the powerful Edmonton Oilers.

No problem, the B's made it back two years later, with Ray Bourque, Craig Janney, Neely, and goaltender Andy Moog leading the way.

While the Bruins again fell short, they brought back the excitement to Boston Garden with their playoff runs. And Neely was a big part of that, scoring clutch goals for the Bruins time and time again.

Of course, all good things must come to an end—but they ended prematurely for the Bruins in their 1991 run.

Ulf Samuelsson's cheap knee-on-knee hit on Neely in Game Three of the Wales Conference Finals that not only ended the Bruins' Cup hopes in 1991, but started a series of serious injuries for the power forward as well.

Neely was arguably the league's hottest goal-scorer during the 1991 playoffs up to that point (he finished with 16 goals in 19 games).  Against the Whalers and Canadiens in the first two rounds, he came up with big goals whenever the Bruins needed one.

Neely missed almost all of the 1991-92 season, but made a courageous comeback late in 1992-93 and tallied 11 goals in 13 games, and also played in the playoffs.

But the 1993-94 season was a truly amazing one, as Neely scored his 50th goal in just his 44th game—before having his season cut short by injuries once again.

All in all, it was a great career for Neely, who finished with 395 lifetime goals.

Selfishly, I wished he'd have scored against the Oilers' Bill Ranford in the 1990 Finals (he and the top line of Janney and Brian Propp all got shut out) and made a difference there, but alas, it just wasn't meant to be.

Still, Neely finally got his due in 2005, getting inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

A great trade for the Bruins, undoubtedly.

As for Pederson?

Pederson would score 24 goals for the Canucks in his first season there, but his production would tail off dramatically, reaching double-digits only two more times before his NHL career ended in 1991-92.

And the draft pick the B's received in the deal? He turned out to be defenseman Glen Wesley, who would become a solid blueliner in black and gold for several seasons.