(Photo: Boston Bruins TV)
Wednesday morning, May 20, the Boston Bruins announced the selection of Don Sweeney as the new General Manager for the team. In the afternoon, he was joined by Boston Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs and President Cam Neely to share information about the decision and the focus for the coming season.
“Today is a great day, today is really, I think, a new era for Boston Bruins hockey. I hope our fan base out there, our season ticket holders, everyone in Bruins Nation, if you will, will realize this is a day to celebrate,” Jacobs began. “Today is a culmination of roughly a month-long search to find our next GM. We’ve done a worldwide search, very thorough. I will not get into the candidates that we spoke to, other than to say with great pride we sit here and introduce Don Sweeney as our eighth general manager in Boston Bruins history.”
Neely discussed the process that resulted in the selection of Sweeney in broad strokes.
“It took longer than expected, a lot of it had to do with schedules, second interviews. We identified four candidates that we felt would be strong candidates to be the next GM of the Boston Bruins,” Neely explained. “Some with previous GM experience, others without. Ultimately, it boiled down to where we are as an organization, the team that we currently have, feeling like we don’t have to completely change a great deal. And the fact that Don knows the organization from top to bottom played a huge factor in the decision to go with Don Sweeney.”
Sweeney’s involvement with the Bruins organization has been in the front office for the past ten years, joining the team in 2006 as the Director of Player Development. In 2007 he was named Director of Hockey Operations and was then promoted to Assistant General Manager in September 2009.
Among other duties, as Assistant GM, Sweeney was heavily involved in the development of the team’s drafted prospects at all levels and ran the team’s first off-season Development Camp in July 2007. The ninth camp will take place this summer.
However, Sweeney’s involvement with the team dates back to 1984 when he was drafted by the Bruins in the eighth round, 166th overall. After playing four years of hockey for Harvard University. He then went on to play 16 years in the NHL, which included 15 for the Black and Gold. Sweeney is one of two defensemen and four players in the history of the team to play more than 1,000 games in the Spoked B.
When first announced, Sweeney expressed his feelings about the decision, which he reiterated in the afternoon.
“I am both excited and humbled for the opportunity to be named the General Manager of the Boston Bruins,” he said. “I am fully aware of everyone’s expectations to move the organization forward. The challenges ahead rest with the players, the coaches and the management group to work hard to make the necessary changes to bring the Bruins back to the forefront of contending for the Stanley Cup.”
And of course, it was of no surprise when the first question put to Sweeney during the press conference had to do with the status of current head coach Claude Julien.
“I’ve spoken with Claude. I know it’s been reported that I had spoken to Claude as a prospective general manager candidate; that also is true. I spoke to Claude again this morning, and I spoke to him as a person now in a general manager’s seat,” Sweeney said. “So I have some things that I want to sit down with Claude and go through in a very orderly fashion as to [what] I think needs to change and what direction we need to change as a group. I also acknowledged to Claude during this whole process that I think tremendously of him as a coach and as a person, so I think it’s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in, that he believes in, and that we can move the group forward. He’s the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today, that’s for sure.”
Over the next few weeks, there will likely be some serious analysis of the players, the various coaches, the prospects. Some decisions may need to be made sooner than later as the 2015 NHL Draft will be here in just over five weeks.
It is clear that the team’s current upper management intends to re-identify the personality and character of the team, and work to bring a cohesive understanding to all involved from those on the ice to those making decisions.