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January 14, 2013 | 12:33am ET
Neely apologizes to fans for lockout
By Shawn Hutcheon, TheFourthPeriod.com

BOSTON, MA -- On Saturday, the Boston Bruins had scheduled a press conference for 11am.

General Manager Peter Chiarelli and President Cam Neely were expected to discuss the end of the NHL lockout, along with the team's schedule and subsequent promotions that will be offered to its fans.

However, the Memorandum of Understanding needed to be signed by the NHL and the NHLPA before teams could proceed as if it were business as usual. As a result, the media was sent home.

That night, both parties put their names on the dotted line and on Sunday the NHL season began with the opening of training camps across North America.

Two hours before the Bruins hit the ice for the first time this season, the GM and President addressed the media.

Neely was first to bring up the lockout.

"First of all again, I would like to apologize to all our fans, season ticket holders, and premium clients for the lengthy lockout," he said. "Certainly, I don't know if any of us expected it to go this long, but fortunately, we can start talking about hockey and hockey games."

Chiarelli followed with comments of his own.

"From my perspective, it's been a painful journey up to this point for all of us," he admitted. "Mostly for our fans, for our stakeholders, but I'm glad the parties came to an agreement, and we're able to ice our team now."

Almost everyone associated with the NHL has apologized for not only the lockout, but the length of time it took to hammer out a deal.

After hearing the "we're sorry" statements, fans have repeatedly been heard saying, "That's nice, but what are you going to do for us?"

Neely answered those questions with a litany of promotions the Boston organization will offer to those who bleed Black and Gold.

He began by indicating that for each of their five January home games, fans will receive "free concession vouchers," which will be "valid for three food or beverage items."

"It's very important for the organization and for ownership to do this," Neely said. "Along with that, on opening night, there will be free t-shirts for all fans, and in-game fan giveaways.

Post-game player meet-and-greets will occur throughout the season in Boston, an offering of two away game trips for fans, and selective free parking to certain ticket holders are also now available.

"These are all things our fans can appreciate, because Lord knows we certainly appreciate our fans," Neely stated.

It has been widely believed that all 30 NHL clubs need to go above and beyond to make amends with those who support their favorite teams. With Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs taking a hard line view during CBA negotiations, Boston fans have not been happy with the man.

When asked for his opinion upon being informed of the promotions during the club's first practice, a Bruins fan answered in typical Boston fashion.

"Well, it's a start," he said.

Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period.


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