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Murphy: Don’t Blame Sweeney For Bertuzzi Leaving



Boston Bruins

Let’s make one thing clear for those who seem to have selective memory when it comes to Tyler Bertuzzi signing with the Toronto Maple Leafs and not the Boston Bruins:

Neither Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney nor Tyler Bertuzzi ever said that Bertuzzi’s 2023 trade deadline acquisition from the Detroit Red Wings would be anything more than a rental. While both player and GM stated their mutual interest to make it more than that, neither committed to any scenario in which Bertuzzi would be on the 2023-24 Boston Bruins roster.

“Yeah, we loved it. We honestly had such a blast,” Bertuzzi said back on May 2. “We were in the north end, ate pasta every day, went for walks, we had a lot of fun, and we enjoyed it here. So yeah, we could definitely see it.”

When pressed again on the topic again, Bertuzzi reiterated that he had a good time in Boston.

“Yeah, man, the fans here are awesome, arena like everything about it, I loved it.”

So where in those replies did he say that ‘wanted to remain a Bruin’ past this season? Bertuzzi said exactly what any unrestricted free agent-to-be – other than, say, Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci – said and has always said in that situation.

As for Sweeney, he was and has been as blunt about the harsh reality that the cap-strapped  Bruins were facing after he went all in heading into this past season and again at the NHL trade deadline. While he openly expressed a desire to bring back Bertuzzi, and his other trade deadline acquisitions, defenseman Dmitry Orlov and winger Garnet Hathaway, he made it very clear the chances of that happening were slim to none.

“I couldn’t just categorically sign those players today,” Sweeney said on May 2. “You know, our cap situation, we leveraged a little bit. Everybody knows our overage at four and a half. So, we have some constraints, as do several other teams around the league. Our goal was to put the season on the absolute best roster we could put together and try and take a real legitimate run, and we failed, no question. So, we have to pay that forward a little bit. That might mean we’re instituting younger players, which might mean roster changes, which we would like to make. That might mean I might be able to sign, as you referenced, one of those three or other unrestricted players.

We have to address the two RFAs in Frederic and Swayman, which we will do. And roster changes are likely coming. You know, we’re not going to be the same team. Still, our mandate internally, collectively as a group, is we have a really strong core of guys that hopefully, as Jim was talking about, will continue to grow and will take leadership responsibility moving forward regardless of whether or not Patrice and David walk back through the door because they need to. Charlie referenced the 100 years. Well, these guys are part of the next hundred, and they should understand that the expectations don’t change in that regard.”

Don Sweeney maintained that mantra until this past Saturday when he told the media that the Bruins were ‘in all likelihood’ out on the Bertuzzi free agent sweepstakes. According to Bertuzzi’s agent Todd Reynolds, in an interview with ESPN, the Bruins were out because he and Bertuzzi decided to turn down the Bruins’ final offer. They wanted more term. When they couldn’t find that on the open market, they pivoted back to Sweeney but the Bruins general manager had already begun to fill his roster out with five one-way contracts.

Even with only one of those contracts reaching a $2M AAV, the Bruins are still up against the cap with just $6.2 million in cap space to sign three more players. That was also after Sweeney shed Taylor Hall’s $6 million cap hit.

The bottom line is Sweeney, the runner-up for the Jim Gregory Award (GM of the Year), went all in for the 2023 Stanley Cup, and his players failed him. That’s why it’s comical to read and hear the same people that had no issues with Sweeney acquiring three very likely rentals to go for the Stanley Cup, bash him now. As a Arlington, MA native that saw too many Bruins teams never break free from Jeremy Jacobs and Harry Sinden and go all in for Ray Bourque, I’d rather have a GM that did what Sweeney did, than what that didn’t even try.

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