Hockey Hall of Famer and Boston Bruins president Cam Neely played 13 years in the NHL, the final 10 with the Bruins, until a hip injury ended his career in 1996. The Vancouver native racked up numerous records and accolades, becoming only the second Bruins player to record back-to-back 50-goal seasons. Neely, 52, has made cameos in seven feature films—Monument Ave., Dumb and Dumber, Dumb and Dumber To, D2: The Mighty Ducks, What’s the Worst That Could Happen?, Me, Myself & Irene and Stuck on You—and has appeared on TV shows such as Beverly Hills, 90210, Cheers and Rescue Me. He sits on the board of directors of the Hockey Hall of Fame, CoachUp and A.S. Roma S.P.A. On Nov. 18, he will present the 23rd annual stand-up comedy marathon Comics Come Home, a benefit for the Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care. Hosted by Denis Leary, the event will feature comedians such as Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson performing at TD Garden. (The Improper is also a sponsor of the event.) He lives with his wife and two kids in the western suburbs.
Jonathan Soroff: Greatest hockey player of all time?
Cam Neely: I have to go with Bobby Orr. He really, more than anybody, changed the way the position [of defenseman] is played.
What are the odds that the Bruins win the Stanley Cup this year? I don’t like answering those questions, Jonathan. [Laughs.]
Last time you actually put on skates? The Winter Classic game at Gillette Stadium two years ago, and if you ask me that question 10 years from now, it’ll probably be the same.
Did you ever try figure skating? I tried figure skating and speedskating, with the proper skates for both those sports. With figure skating, the toe pick was not my friend, and with speedskating, you’ve gotta be careful when you fall. Those blades are very long.
Do you have all your own teeth? No. In my generation, there are probably not too many who do. … Now, most players are wearing mouthguards, which didn’t really happen back when I was playing. But by the time their careers are over, they still might have a few dental issues.
Worst injury you ever had playing? I can’t spell it for you, but myositis ossificans in my left quad. It was the most pain that I’ve ever dealt with in my life. In essence, it was an extremely bad charley horse that just didn’t go away.
Funniest person you’ve ever known? I’m gonna go with Michael J. Fox.
Favorite stand-up comedian of all time? Damn. There are a lot of good ones, but the late, great Patrice O’Neal never failed to make me laugh.
So with Comics Come Home, do you invite the comedians or do they volunteer? Well, it’s interesting. Denis [Leary] does the invitations, and early on, he said it was challenging to get comedians, for like the first few years. Now he says he’s got people calling him up and asking if they can be part of the lineup, that they’d love to do the show.
Anyone you’ve ever had in the show who you would never have back, and why? Yes. Because maybe I didn’t find them as funny as I would have liked. But I can’t really complain too much, Jonathan, because we’re so grateful that they donate their time for this.
Denis Leary’s hair—is that shit for real, or is that a weave? [Laughs.] Yes, it is all his. There’s something strange goin’ on there DNA-wise.
True or false: Jimmy Fallon is part Keebler elf? [Laughs.] I hadn’t heard that, but now that you mention it…
New thing at Comics Come Home that you’re most excited about? There’s always new comedians, and I’m always interested to see how they perform and what type of humor they have, how the crowd reacts.
Thing you will never change about Comics Come Home? Censoring comedians will never happen.
How’s the golf game? It wasn’t my best summer. I didn’t play as much as I would have liked, and when I did play, most rounds were not what I was hoping for.
Why—aside from the obvious similarity of a long stick and a small object—is it that pro hockey players all seem to be outstanding golfers? I think the mechanics of shooting a puck and swinging a club are very similar. It’s body mechanics and muscle memory.
Ever gotten a hole-in-one? I have not. I’m still looking for the elusive hole-in-one.
What’s your handicap? I think it’s 5 right now.
That’s pretty damn good! Yeah. It could be better, though.
Favorite golf course in the world? That I’ve played? Right now, that’d have to be Cypress [Point] at Pebble Beach.
Favorite golf tournament partner? My son, Jack. He loves golf.
What do you miss most about Canada? The politeness. Canadians are just so much more polite.
If you hadn’t become a pro hockey player, what would you be doing now? Petroleum distributor. As in, running a gas station. Pumping gas was one of my last jobs.
If I’d told your 10-year-old self where you’d be and what you’d be doing today, what would he have said? “Are you fucking kidding me?” [Laughs.] I don’t know if I’d swear, though. I might get my mouth washed out with soap.
Greatest single accomplishment? Convincing Paulina to marry me.
You just scored major points at home. If one of your kids came to you and said they wanted to play pro hockey, what would you say? Well, my son Jack did say he wanted to play, so we signed him up. I’m all for trying everything, with both of my kids.
Favorite knock-knock joke of all time? [Laughs.] I have no idea! It’s been a long time since my kids were 4 and 5, when I probably would have had an answer for you. But that was a long time ago.
What goes through your mind when you look up at the rafters in the Garden and see your retired jersey? It’s an honor to be up there with those other retired numbers, and sometimes it’s hard to believe.
So is eight your lucky number? It has become that, yes. I don’t really gamble because I never really feel lucky, but if I were playing roulette, I would put a chip on eight black.
What do you want on your tombstone? I’m thinking about getting cremated, but I don’t know: “Good guy, good father, good husband, who liked to help others.” ◆