So, it's out there.
Admittedly, it took Tyler Seguin torching Boston with a hat-trick at the TD Garden to get anyone in the Bruins organisation to actually admit that trading away one of the brightest Boston superstar prospects in a generation for a trade that even to this day still looks horrendously lopsided was probably something they'd have done differently in hindsight, but at least now it's out there.
The trouble is, Neely's comments show a slightly disconcerting emphasis not on helping players make the best of the mercurial talents they have, but of making them fit into a system and mindset that may not be their own...one that basically says "there is no room for individuality, mercurial players or indeed any kind of player here but one who the brain trust say should be here.
From the first comment, you can see that the Bruins official line is going to be "try and forget this happened and give non-answers as much as possible. This is in response to being asked if the Bruins made a mistake to trade one of the most dynamic players the TD Garden crowd has seen:
""Well, obviously he’s a hell of a player, and he’s got all kinds of skill. He skates really well and he can really rip the puck," Neely said. "It’s one of those things where you knew he had all that skill, and you knew he would do well in the league, but that’s kind of history now."
Or, to put it another way "yeah, he was and is an awesome player, and we knew that, but we traded him anyway and it's done so why are we talking about it again?"
Upon further pressing, Neely still refuses to admit any regrets in the Boston organisation:
"Well, I think you look at any trade. Some you look at and say, jeez, maybe you didn’t get enough, or the return wasn’t quite what it should have been. Some, you’re happy with the outcome," Neely said. "Every team probably could look at every trade and pick it apart."
Or, decoded...."hey, we all screw up!"
If you're reacting to a trade that even to this day still causes your average Bruins fan to break out in a cold sweat and angry voices to be raised when anyone tries to suggest it's a good trade with "hey, everybody screws up, jeez!", then you have a problem, or a REALLY big denial complex. Or maybe you just don't want to talk about it much.
Speaking of talking about it much, Neely does then seem to admit a little culpability in the way Bruins managed Séguin - in fact, this is the only part of the interview where there's actually any admittance of failure on the B's part.
"I think looking back, we probably could have done some things differently with Tyler. You’ve got a young kid coming in, maybe we could have handled his living arrangements a little different and stuff like that, that we’ve talked about over the years. It’s something we certainly are addressing currently, and in the future we will continue to address."
Then, of course, we move back into the meat of the article, which is where Neely basically goes full PR mode.
"It’s more about really, we talk about drafting and developing. And the development piece really is a big part of it. You have to really work with these players and develop them in the professionals, and that’s an area where we we’ve really improved in the last year or so,"
So, what you're basically saying here, Cam, is that the Bruins had one of the best young players in the world and managed to screw up a slam-dunk of development and NOW you think "hmm, maybe we need to work on this "development" thing?
This is a terrifying quote if you're a Bruins fan, because it means that players like Phil Kessel, Joe Thornton, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand became the key NHL players they are (and in the case of the first three true modern greats) DESPITE the system that was meant to turn them into NHL players of the highest calibre, not because of it?
How screwed up a development system does it have to be to not look at...say, the Joe Thornton saga in Boston and go "hmm, maybe we need to treat talented young men who may be a bit mercurial a little better?" How one-eyed and blinded does an organisation have to be to see that happen TWICE and then spend a long time basically saying "that's not our problem?" That's like choosing to take a promenade through a minefield then blaming someone else for getting blown up.
It gets better, though, as Neely basically implies that the Bruins had scouted Séguin, but possibly didn't know all they were drafting...