In true Massachusetts fashion, the Bruins finally ended their “worldwide” search for Peter Chiarelli’s replacement by naming the (surprise!) odds-on in-house candidate Don Sweeney to the General Manager position. The former Bs defenseman seemingly has been groomed for a top front office position since his career ended and if it wasn’t here, it would’ve been somewhere else soon enough. But the Bruins opted to promote a pretty intelligent guy who is well-respected and as well versed in the team’s organizational depth as anyone who works on Causeway Street.
Still, even if it was ultimately a bit of a rigged game for Sweeney, that didn’t prevent the Bruins from doing their due diligence by interviewing other candidates (I think the NHL has a secret Rooney Rule but for Canadians). Though I’m not sure what those guys could have said to get the job over Sweeney given that it was likely his from the hop. And Bruins fans should be fine with that.
Sweeney has more than put in his time in many facets of running a front office since the Bruins hired him in ’06. He started by organizing the team’s first summer Development Camp for prospects—now an anticipated off-season staple for die-hards. He was Assistant GM for the last six years and GM of Providence last year. So it’s safe to assume he has a better handle on the Bruins young players than pretty much anyone else (we pretty much know what we have with the vets on the team…most nights).
Don’t fall for the easy story that Neely is consolidating power like he’s the Emperor and former teammate Sweeney is Darth Vader and that he’s gonna start hawking loogies into co-workers burgers’ all of the sudden. Will he have Sweeney’s ear more than he had Chiarelli’s? Will Sweeney perhaps be more receptive than Chiarelli? Most likely given their decades of friendship and shared experiences. But is he gonna suddenly morph into Bill fucking Lumbergh and be up Sweeney’s ass? I don’t buy it.
A lot of front offices are more collaborative than they’ve ever been. St. Brendan (Shanahan) of Our Lady of the Perpetually Broken parish in Toronto might not even hire a GM as he and Mike Babcock undertake the NHL’s equivalent of the Big Dig (though the Big Dig might be the better bargain after all is said and done). So what if Neely does want and get more say? Yeah, I’m kind of okay with the position-inventing HOFer being able to have a little more say with how the team is run (he’s said more than once he’s all set with being a GM). But that hardly makes Sweeney a lackey. Every major decision in every front office gets run up the flagpole (except for maybe Kenny Holland). Sweeney will be no different than Chiarelli in that regard (and this is the part where I remind you that Chiarelli doesn’t trade Tyler Seguin without the go-ahead from upstairs).
People getting hung up on the semantics of just how much more ‘say’ Neely has are missing the point that Sweeney was the right hire at the right time. Had the Bruins gone outside the organization to fill the slot, they’d already be behind the 8-ball in that the hire would lack the wealth of knowledge about the Bruins depth that Sweeney harbors. And then they probably would’ve lost the promising (and now stepped over) Sweeney when another team came along and pilfered him. Perhaps the Bruins don’t want to Laviolette themselves again.
In his first few interviews, he certainly conveyed that he’s going to make make some major changes to the roster via hockey trades (talent for talent) to get it where he feels it needs to be. And that’s good to hear because the team needs it. But first, he needs to see if Claude will play ball with a short rope (read: open it up/play the kids more or else) or just turf him now and promote Bruce Cassidy from Providence to start the season fresh. For Claude’s sake, he really ought to decide soon because with Babcock now off the market, Julien, thanks to his stint here, will be arguably the most coveted coach on the market (as of today, Claude is the longest-tenured coach in the NHL).
Now, we just count the minutes until the inevitable multi-player blockbuster with Edmonton (I wish I could buy stock in “Chris Kelly will be an Oiler in 2015-16″).
A few more buds for your Memorial Weekend bowl…
*The Bs signed Finnish forward Joonas Kemppainen to a two-way, one-year deal with a $700K cap hit. He’s a 6’2″ 213 lb. 27-year-old who will presumably battle for a bottom-six roster spot in training camp.
*NBC/NBCSN’s playoff coverage has been excellent every night. The pre-game show, the post-game show, and game presentation have really come a long way since the Versus days. I see and hear Liam McHugh more than my old lady this time of year and he’s been aces once again. The baby-faced host knows his shit, seamlessly and humorously banters with several egos each night, and has been the anchor for the NHL’s TV playoff coverage. Doc Emrick is Doc Emrick. Brian Boucher has been a great addition. Keith Jones has always been a fantastic analyst. But I don’t understand how Andy Brickley doesn’t continue to be utilized (though I’m gonna guess it relates to seniority with NBC). I’m not being a homer here but he was, BY FAR, the best in-game analyst NBC used in the early rounds. Rather than give us slapdick facts like what podunk hoser town guys used to run train on puck fucks, he actually makes concise, cogent points that explain what just happened and why. And Jeremy Roenick’s gift for malapropisms should put him in “The Sopranos” Hall of Fame.
*But what I really like is how much Mike Milbury pisses off perennially whiny Hockey Twitter. So when I heard his ultimately complimentary comments about Corey Perry, I knew he’d set off alarms in the usual echo chambers of Twitter and the Internet. “If I was playing against Perry, I’d want to hurt him in some painful and permanent way” basically sums up the feelings of every opponent of Corey Perry. Or pretty much every guy who throws a hard hit at a vulnerable guy in the playoffs (if not, tell me what Brooks Orpik is thinking here?). Or pretty much Perry himself, one of the game’s best AND dirtiest players. His comments pissed off the Anaheim locker room as well, though I wonder if the Ducks were also informed by the inquiring media that Milbury ended his comments with, “I wish he were on my team”. Considering that Andew Cogliano’s said, “He probably meant he’d want Perry on his team”, I’m guessing that’s a no. Several media outlets conveniently omitted Milbury’s last sentence as well. It’s one thing to not like a guy. But it’s another to completely leave out a big part of the story so you can forward your own biased narrative.
*”Hey Don? It’s Pete. Congratulations. How goes it? Good to hear. So far, so good though it’s 36 degrees here in May. I wanted to ask about Malcolm. And Milan. I hear your looking for help up front…”
*Monday is Memorial Day. So take a goddamn minute out of the day to remember our war dead. Because you sure as hell ain’t gonna touch this kid.