PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A Winterhawks legend and National Hockey League hall of famer will be immortalized at Veterans Memorial Coliseum Saturday night as the team retires Cam Neely’s No. 21 jersey.

Neely played for the Winterhawks from 1982 to 1984 — winning a Memorial Cup in 1983 and going on to a Hall of Fame career for the Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s ceremony, Neely told KOIN 6 News it’s “quite an honor to have a number retired, it’s hard to put my head around it, you know, 40 years later but it’s certainly something special.”

The Hall of Famer added, “I’m excited to see the old teammates. I haven’t seen a lot of them in plenty of years, for sure — decades for sure — and I understand the turnout’s going to be pretty high which is great.”

During a hockey tournament when he was 16 years old, Neely remembers traveling from Maple Ridge, British Columbia to Portland, where a Winterhawks scout asked Neely and another teammate if they wanted to practice with the team.

Neely was invited to a Winterhawk’s training camp, joined the team and won the Memorial Cup that same year.

Former Portland Winterhawk, Cam Neely, remembers joining the team after visiting Portland from Maple Ridge, British Columbia for a hockey tournament at 16 years old when he was scouted by the team. March 17, 2023 (Cam Neely).

“I was just really happy to be playing hockey and not going to school,” Neely joked.

“I came to the team that was a good team to begin with, they had a good year prior to ’82, ’83. So, I was stepping into a good team that they were fairly close, and they welcomed us new folks, new players with open arms,” Neely said. “Obviously, we got our chops busted a little bit, which happens, but you know for the most part, really close group of guys and you have to be to go that deep and win.”

Neely said the Memorial Cup win was extremely special.

“Anytime you win a championship, it’s something you take forever, you know, your teammates will be with you forever, you’ll never forget that team and the experiences that you all went through to ultimately win,” he said. “It’s really something that stays with you for a lifetime.”

When it comes to advice for current Winterhawks, Neely says to enjoy where they are now.

“Just enjoy the moment, try not to look too far ahead. I mean, now it’s a little different, there’s so much information out there…I didn’t even go to the draft, now it’s televised. For me, I would tell them just to live in the moment and have fun. Enjoy what you’re doing now.”

Neely’s jersey retirement ceremony will take place before the Winterhawks take on Seattle at 6:20 p.m. Saturday.