Don Sweeney has come full circle with the Boston Bruins organization. He started as a player, moved to the front office, later became the General Manager, and has now won GM of the year. He beat out fellow nominees Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues and Don Waddell of the Carolina Hurricanes. General Manager of the Year is voted on by all of the General Managers in the league, so this is not only an honor but it shows how well a GM is regarded by their peers.
Before the NHL Awards, speaking on his nomination, Don Sweeney told reporters, “It’s obviously a privilege to being acknowledged by your peer group. A lot of work goes in. Obviously, it shares a reflection of the organization overall; the support you get throughout. It’s a little bit hard for us as the Boston Bruins to be fully on board and celebrating and such. But like I said, it’s a testament to the organization overall to be here.”
Where It Started
Sweeney was a defenceman drafted by the Bruins in 1984. He made his NHL debut in the 1988-89 season, and played with the Bruins until the 2002-03 season. He played for one more year with the Dallas Stars before retiring. During his 15 year tenure wearing #32 for the Bruins, he played in over 1,000 games. Wearing the Spoked B, he recorded 52 goals and 210 assists, equaling 262 points.
On May 20th 2015, Sweeney officially signed on as the Bruins General Manager, taking over from Peter Chiarelli. The biggest immediate obstacle he faced was the salary cap. Chiarelli had a tendency to sign players to large and extended contracts that left little room against the cap. Sweeney had to make some bold moves, such as trading longtime fan-favorites Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton. He’s had no hesitation trading fan-favorites to do what he believes is best for the team. Most recently he traded defenseman Adam McQuaid to the New York Rangers prior to this season. McQuaid was arguably the last of the old guard of hockey; the enforcer who would drop the gloves in a split-second to change the game’s momentum (or just because he wanted to). It was a gamble that paid off.
The final splash Sweeney made this season was trading for Charlie Coyle from the Minnesota Wild for Ryan Donato and a 2019 conditional fifth-round pick at the trade deadline. In 21 regular season games Coyle notched two goals and four assists, but it was in the post season where he excelled. He earned a plus-nine rating with nine goals and seven assists.
The Bruins fell just short this season, losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to the St. Louis Blues. The window could be closing on the Bruins core group of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand. Sweeney is fully aware and rumors are swirling that he intends to make a big splash to get the boys in black and gold back to the Finals. Bold moves will likely be necessary, and the GM of the Year has shown time and again that he’s up to the task.