Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 5/20/14
BOSTON — Bruins president Cam Neely knows a thing or two about the importance of fighting in hockey. The Hall of Famer was never afraid to drop the gloves during his playing days, and the B’s have been one of the toughest teams in the NHL during his presidency. However, Neely knows the game is changing, and those changes mean a reduced emphasis on the ability to drop the mitts. Neely admitted as much Tuesday during a season’s end news conference alongside Boston owner Jeremy Jacobs and club principal Charlie Jacobs. Neely was asked about the importance of fisticuffs in the NHL moving forward. “I still believe that we like the physical game and physical play which at times leads to dropping the gloves,” Neely said Tuesday morning at TD Garden. “But there’s always been a lot of talk, primarily with the media, about you know, ‘is fighting still necessary in our game?’. I think with the way the game’s played and how it is played and how physical it is, I still feel it is still part of the game. “But where it goes, you see from like ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, it’s a little different or probably still trend that way, yes.” Neely’s words could be telling when looking at how the Bruins will construct their roster. Noted tough guy Shawn Thornton is an unrestricted free agent, and his time as the club’s enforcer might be coming to an end. The NHL is moving toward a faster, more skilled type of game, which may leave players like Thornton scrambling to find work. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli alluded last week to “trends” in hockey when speaking about Thornton and the Bruins’ fourth line. Chiarelli was quick to say that Thornton’s pugilistic prowess isn’t his only skill, but he is a 36-year-old fourth-line winger who had just eight points in 64 games this season. The trends are pointing toward the need for more speed and skill That’s not to say there isn’t a need for toughness, which speaks to Neely’s original point. Even if the Bruins move on from a player like Thornton, there’s still plenty of tough, physical players left on the Boston roster with players like Milan Lucic, Kevan Miller and Johnny Boychuk just to name a few.Filed under: Boston Bruins, Mike Cole, Top Stories

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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