According to Boston Bruins Team President Cam Neely, there has been no internal spending cap set for him, General Manager Don Sweeney, and the Bruins hockey operations department.
Responding to an email from Boston Hockey Now on Tuesday, Neely wrote the following on Wednesday:
“There have not been any conversations with Mr. Jacobs or Charlie Jacobs regarding restrictions on hockey-related spending. They continue to give the hockey management full support.”
Given the financial losses Jeremy Jacobs and his Delaware North hospitality empire have taken since the COVID19 pandemic hit and the NHL season paused on March 12, there has been plenty of speculation (including here) amongst media, fans, and industry sources that the Bruins relatively quiet offseason was a result of an internal spending cap set forth by team ownership. Delaware North and the Boston Bruins have already had two waves of layoffs and furloughs and Jeremy Jacobs has been unloading business assets including an Illinois casino and most recently putting his palatial Manhattan residence up for sale.
The Boston Bruins entered the offseason with $15.4 million in salary cap space but since they were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs on August 31 and didn’t make any trades throughout the month of September and still haven’t as October is almost half over. Since unrestricted free agency began last Friday, the Bruins have made two transactions, bringing rugged defenseman Kevan Miller back on a one-year, $1 million, bonus-laden deal and then signing unrestricted free agent forward Craig Smith to a three-year contract worth $9.3 million.
The Boston Bruins were reportedly in on top UFA forward Taylor Hall before he signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday but Sweeney admitted to the media Saturday that they weren’t even pursuing the big fish on the UFA market, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Sweeney also wasn’t able to prevent his highest-scoring defenseman and powerplay quarterback, Torey Krug, from leaving the Boston Bruins as a UFA and signing with the St. Louis Blues.
“I have not, full disclosure, in this case, I have not had a discussion with Pietrangelo’s camp,” Sweeney said Saturday after the Bruins signed Smith. “We feel that our right side might not be the absolute best fit for our club. Very respectful for the player, an elite player in the National Hockey League. That’s not the discussion we’ve had. In regards to other players, we’re certainly engaging the interest on both sides of it and seeing what we can potentially fit in.”
When asked point-blank if, as a result of the pandemic, the ever-changing financial climate that led to financial losses for Jacobs, he was operating under an ownership-imposed spending cap, Sweeney did not answer the question and deferred to Neely and Charlie and Jeremy Jacobs. Instead, Sweeney said that he and Neely have been tasked with icing a Stanley Cup contender regardless of any restrictions and that’s what he intended to do.
“From a hockey ops standpoint, Mr. Jacobs is consistent that we’ve been put in place to make really effective decisions and put the best team we can possibly put on the ice, and he’s consistent with that,” Sweeney explained. “I can also guarantee he’ll be consistent in the fact that if we don’t put the quality product on the ice, he’ll find people that will. And that’s a part of them and I respect the hell out of that, to tell you the honest truth. But as far as the greater economic standpoint, I think only Cam, Charlie, Mr. Jacobs should really answer the question in terms of the global part of Delaware North and the Boston Bruins.”
Neely has now answered that question and that means the rest of the offseason and what he and Sweeney are able to do to improve the team is solely on them and without restrictions from above.