Cam Neely - "if I Can't Play Again, So What?"
So What?" "If I Can't Play Again
Neely's mother died of her cancer in 1987, shortly after Neely was traded to Boston, and his father succumbed to his late in 1993. Those experiences gave Neely perspective as he struggled with injuries towards the end in his career. "If I couldn't play hockey again, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world," Neely told David Rattigan of Sporting News during the 1994-95 season. "It would be disappointing, but it wouldn't even come close to what happened with my parents.… [I]f I can't play again, so what? I can still do something else."
After his retirement, Neely, maintaining that attitude, turned his attention to helping other families that were struggling with cancer. Working with his brother Scott Neely, who also lives in Boston, Neely founded the Cam Neely Foundation, and in August of 1997 the Neely House opened its doors. Its sixteen apartments (up from eight when it first opened) are a low-cost, supportive place for cancer patients and their families to stay while undergoing treatment at the New England Medical Center in Boston.
Neely has appeared in five movies—Monument Ave.; Dumb and Dumber; Mighty Ducks II; Me, Myself and Irene; and What's the Worst that Could Happen?—and written a book, Hockey for Everybody: Cam Neely's Guide to the Red-Hot Game on Ice, since retiring from hockey. Written for new fans, the book attempts to explain the fundamentals of hockey to people who enjoy watching the game but don't necessarily understand all of the intricacies of play.
"[Neely] puts his heart and soul into everything he does," fellow Bruins player and friend Don Sweeney told Boston Herald reporter Joe Gordon shortly after Neely abandoned his 1998 comeback attempt. "Whether it be off the ice with the Neely Foundation or on the ice with what he accomplished or the injury situation with what he fought against.… He's a testament in his character to what people should strive to be about."