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For Bruins president Cam Neely, team is a work in progress

Milan Lucic (above) has just three goals this season and has especially struggled without his usual center, David Krejci, in the lineup.
Milan Lucic (above) has just three goals this season and has especially struggled without his usual center, David Krejci, in the lineup.JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF/Globe Staff

Despite the adversity the Bruins have faced, team president Cam Neely said Thursday they’re in the process of establishing themselves and building toward the postseason.

“It’s a long year, you’re going to have some bumps along the way, but it’s just a matter of understanding where you are as a team, understanding where you are as an individual player, and working toward getting better at the right time,” said Neely, who participated in the unveiling of the new TD Garden Pro Shop that will open to the public on Saturday morning.

Neely said all things considered, he is happy with where the Bruins sit in the Eastern Conference, but he certainly isn’t satisfied.


“I think everybody realizes they could probably play better,” he said. “As the season progresses, we’d like to see that improvement. But with what’s happened to the team and the players, and they’re not excuses, everybody goes through it. But to be able to get the points we have, and some of them were ugly, we can certainly acknowledge that. But we got some points that put us in a [decent] position as we approach Thanksgiving. It’s something that we’re building toward improving as the season progresses.”

The Bruins are 12-8-0 approximately a quarter of the way through the 82-game regular season.

“By Thanksgiving, it’s better to be in the playoff picture than not,” said Neely. “It’s an important date we look at. Having said that, it’s not impossible to get back into the playoffs, but it makes it more difficult.”

The trade deadline is March 2, a long way off and Neely wouldn’t address any potential moves, but he did acknowledge that the roster could change down the road.

“It’s hard to pick a team in August, it’s hard to pick a team in November,” said Neely. “A lot of things can happen from training camp to the trade deadline, especially with injuries, and we’ve gone through it now. For me, it’s just about seeing the improvement as a team and as individuals as we progress throughout the year.”


Finding a way

One who stands to benefit most from David Krejci’s return to the lineup is Milan Lucic. Lucic has just three goals in 20 games and has especially struggled when Krejci has been out for nine games because of injuries. Neely said it’s up to the individual player to find a way to contribute.

“It’s really about what do you do and what do you bring and how can you play and not think about, ‘OK, I don’t have my centerman that I’m used to,’ ” said Neely, who played with two dynamic pivotmen in Adam Oates and Craig Janney. “I may not be getting the puck in situations that I’m accustomed to, but you have to think about what do I need to do to play well and how can I still help my team as opposed to getting frustrated that you may not get the puck in certain situations. You can still go out there and help your team in other ways. It may not be the way you’d like it to be, but you can still find ways to help your team win hockey games.”

Marchand practices

Brad Marchand was back on the ice for practice, but coach Claude Julien didn’t think Marchand would make the trip to Columbus for Friday night’s game against the Blue Jackets. “He’s doing better, day to day,” said Julien. Defenseman Dougie Hamilton was also back after missing a day because of the flu. He was expected to travel with the team . . . Forward Alexander Khokhlachev was recalled from Providence on an emergency basis and will be eligible to play Friday night.


Not forgotten

There was plenty of support for former Bruin Nathan Horton, who is out of the Blue Jackets’ lineup and facing a decision regarding surgery on his back.

“It’s too bad to see a young player like that have to make a decision on his career at such a young age with so much potential,” said Julien. “You really do feel for him. The financial [security] is nice but that’s not what brings you happiness. We all know that. If he doesn’t come back and play, what do you do at a young age of 30 and say, ‘I’m not able to do what I’ve done my whole life.’ It’s a pretty big blow to a young player like that.”

Krejci has kept in touch with Horton.

“He is a good friend and he has been going through some tough times,” said Krejci. “There is still a chance he can come back and play. I bet he is putting all the positive thinking into returning pretty soon or at all. As long as there is still a chance he can play, it’s a good thing.”

Krejci said he has talked to some retired players and it made him realize he can’t take his career for granted.


“You talk to the older players when they retire,” said Krejci. “They keep telling us, ‘Just enjoy it. The time flies really fast and before you know it, the career is over. So just enjoy every moment, every day.’ And that’s what we’ve been trying to do.”

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at nancy.marrapese-burrell@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Elle1027.