The Boston Bruins made things official on Monday with general manager Don Sweeney’s contract extension announcing it was a multi-year agreement to keep him in charge of Boston’s hockey operations for the foreseeable future.
The Boston Bruins have signed General Manager Don Sweeney to a multi-year contract extension: https://t.co/TOfbBeoxs4
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) June 27, 2022
“Having had the pleasure of working closely with Don for more than a decade, I’ve seen firsthand his tireless work ethic when it comes to all facets of front office management,” said Bruins President Cam Neely in a press release. “He remains committed to doing whatever it takes to give the Boston Bruins the best chance to win every season. I look forward to continuing to work with Don as we endeavor to bring another championship to this city and our fans.”
Neely had indicated that an extension was in the works when he spoke with the media last month following the B’s first round playoff dismissal at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes, but that it hadn’t been decided on until Boston landed Hampus Lindholm at the NHL trade deadline. Curiously, Sweeney had been allowed to get into the final year of his contract as general manager even though Boston Bruins ownership seems satisfied with the job he’s done to this point.
“We are proud to extend Don Sweeney to a multi-year contract as General Manager of the Boston Bruins,” said Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs. “Under his management, the Boston Bruins have been one of the winningest franchises in the league and a perennial playoff contender year in and year out. While we recognize there is work to be done to achieve the ultimate goal of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Boston, I’m confident that Don’s commitment to being best-in-class on and off the ice will help us climb that mountain once again.”
Sweeney was named the eighth general manager of the Boston Bruins prior to the 2015-16 NHL season and has seen the B’s qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs in nearly every season with him running the Black and Gold. Sweeney was named GM of the Year at the 2019 NHL Awards after the Boston Bruins had pushed all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues and leads one of just four Eastern Conference franchises (Boston, Washington, Pittsburgh and Toronto) that have made it to the postseason in each of the last six seasons.
On the other side of that coin, there has been significant criticism of Sweeney during his Boston Bruins tenure about a draft-and-development system that has lost its way a bit while producing few frontline NHL players for Boston through the draft outside of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Swayman.
The low point was the 2015 NHL Draft when the Bruins accumulated three first round picks with the hope of trading up for defenseman Noah Hanifin, but instead selected Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in a loaded draft where they missed on impact talents like Mat Barzal, Brock Boeser, Travis Konecny, and Kyle Connor among others.
As the core group of players has aged and the window for a Cup has narrowed considerably, it’s been a challenge for Sweeney and Co. to replace veteran players like Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and Kevan Miller as they’ve either retired, moved on or signed elsewhere for a bigger payday.
It’s to the point where Boston Bruins decision-makers are heavily weighing that a rebuild may be in order if things slide off the rails this upcoming season with Charlie McAvoy, Brad Marchand and Matt Grzelcyk all sidelined to start next season while recovering from offseason surgeries.
“I’ve been looking at that for a while now,” said Neely, when asked about a rebuild for the Black and Gold. “As your core players and your better players start to age out, you do have to look at that. There’s no question. But we do have some good young players in this lineup that hopefully continue to grow and hopefully we continue to add to that. But it is something you think about.
“In 2019, we lose in seven in the finals. In 2020, we’re leading the league and then the world falls apart. We’ve got to be better. We needed to be better last playoffs. I thought this year, I honestly felt really good that we were going to get by Carolina in Game 7. I really did. I knew it was going to be tough five-on-five. But like I said, we didn’t draw any penalties to give us a chance for our better players to produce on the power play. Those are things we have to look at to improve upon.”
One thing is for certain: The Boston Bruins have a way to go for true Cup contention after watching the high caliber that Tampa Bay and Colorado were operating at in the just-concluded Stanley Cup Final between the two consensus best teams in the league.
Sweeney, Neely and the rest of the Boston Bruins got a massive boost with reports that Patrice Bergeron is going to return for one more season, and it sounds like former Boston University head coach David Quinn is the favorite to become Boston’s new bench boss replacing Bruce Cassidy. Both Sweeney and Neely plan to talk about the contract extension with the Boston Bruins media in Montreal ahead of the NHL Draft during the second weekend of July.