Burnside: Give Bruins execs their due

In his piece detailing the turn of fortunes of the four remaining teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs, ESPN.com's Scott Burnside referenced Cam Neely's emergence as an executive as a turning point for the Bruins. He writes:

That the turnaround in the franchise's fortunes would coincide with the arrival to management of Bruins icon Cam Neely as team president in 2007 is not coincidental. Neely would bring a presence to the club, instant credibility where there had been a credibility vacuum.

With Neely's leadership paired with the shrewd hockey moves of GM Peter Chiarelli, the Bruins aggressively pursued a championship by acquiring Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and playoff goal-scoring machine Nathan Horton to augment homegrown talent Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron.

"The years that I played with the organization for the most part we felt we could compete to win," Neely told ESPN.com. "I think that's important for a player to feel that they can compete for championships."

After winning the Cup in 2011 in a dramatic seven-game series against heavily favored Vancouver, the Bruins were bounced in the first round by Washington last spring. To be back in the final four with a 2-0 lead after winning a pair of games in Pittsburgh has been reassuring.

"It's important for our organization, for the players and especially for our fans," Neely said. "Just like anybody they want to have something to cheer for and get excited about."

This season, the Bruins set a record for ratings with their local television broadcasts, making a 35 percent jump over the 2011-12 season. For the second year in a row, the local broadcasts ranked third in the nation among regional sports networks.

In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings and subsequent manhunts, the Bruins were among the leaders in the local pro sports community in raising money for the victims, as well as bringing the community together after the tragedy.