Normally, it's wise to stay clear of No. 8 after a loss, never mind one like Wednesday's, in which the Bruins twice blew two-goal leads in the third period and gave up the tying goal with 8.2 seconds left in regulation. But after this one, Neely was uncharacteristically happy and even was seen smiling in the elevator.
Rumors were rampant throughout the day and night that the Bruins were on the verge of acquiring Iginla from the Calgary Flames, and word was that defenseman Matt Bartkowski, prospect Alexander Khokhlachev and a first-round draft pick could be the price. Shortly after midnight, a TSN report said it was a done deal, and Twitter was abuzz about line combinations and contract extensions.
But after the Flames' 4-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary announced that Iginla would indeed be wearing black and gold -- but he was headed to Pittsburgh, not Boston. The Penguins sent college prospects Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski and a first-round pick this year to Calgary.
There are certainly people in the Bruins' organization who thought they had him at one point Wednesday, but the deal never closed.
Why? Because Iginla himself chose Pittsburgh as his team of choice, Flames GM Jay Feaster said at a news conference late Wednesday night in Calgary.
"We began negotiations with teams and in the final analysis, we had offers from three different clubs," Feaster said. "In having those offers, again the player in this trade has a no-trade [clause], a no-move, so the player is part of that process. And so, we worked with the player and concluded a deal this evening with the Pittsburgh Penguins."
Those three teams, according to an ESPN.com source, were the Bruins, Penguins and Los Angeles Kings.
Not only did the Bruins lose out on Iginla, but the trade talks may have contributed to their loss on the ice.
In the locker room after the game, players already had heard the Iginla rumors and were talking about the possible deal. Even coach Claude Julien admitted the trade talks were floating around the room.
"I don't know if it affected the game, but I know it's present," Julien said. "There's a lot of rumors circling around our team, and I called a couple of players in my office just to talk before the game about certain things, and they were a little jumpy. It's present and it's pretty obvious why."
The coach was asked if he'd be glad when it's over.
"If it works out," Julien said with a smile.
The rumors began to heat up when the Bruins recalled defenseman Torey Krug from Providence of the AHL Wednesday afternoon, and later when Bartkowski was a healthy scratch prior to the game.
Then the Flames announced Iginla would be a healthy scratch hours before their game in Calgary. The 35-year-old captain reportedly exited the Saddledome.
In the locker room, the Bruins were disappointed with the loss, but the players seemed at least a little upbeat with the strong speculation that Iginla could be on the way.
"He's a legend. He's a phenomenal player. He's such a great leader," Brad Marchand said. "He's a guy you'd love to have on your team, one of those guys that's definitely a playoff player. If we get him, great; if not, that's how it is."
Yup, that's how it is.