By: Mike Sullivan | Follow me on Twitter @_MikeSullivan
We’re officially at Don Sweeney days until Boston bruins regular season hockey, and as each day closes and we inch closer to NHL hockey, I get a little happier. You can feel it in the air—no more week-long stretches of brutal heat and summer humidity. The atmosphere is getting cooler, and so is the ice at the TD Garden. Today, we’ll recap Don Sweeney’s contributions to the Boston Bruins organization, both as a player and in his role in the front office.
Don Sweeney played 15 seasons with the Boston Bruins before finishing his NHL playing career in Dallas during the 2003-2004 season. During his time in Boston, the defensemen totaled 262 points in 1,052 games played within the organization. He had a career +/- of +97. Sweeney was never a world-beater offensively, but he was a steady top 4 defenseman for the organization for a decade and a half.
When former Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli was fired in 2015, rumors swirled as the talk of Don Sweeney taking on the open vacancy swirled. We all know he was hired and immediately made his presence known as GM. Sending Milan Lucic to the Kings for Martin Jones, Colin Miller, and a 2015 first-round pick (Jakub Zboril). He also shipped Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2015 first (Zach Senyshyn) and two second-round picks (Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Jeremy Lauzon). He then flipped Martin Jones for fan favorite Sean Kuraly.
As always, with every General Manager of a sports team, there is often a much brighter light on their mistakes rather than accomplishments. That said, I’ll get it out of the way because I want to stay positive and show the good side of Sweeney! 2015. Ok, let’s move on.
Despite the negative attention that Don Sweeney always seems to find himself around, he has made some excellent trades.
Acquiring Charlie Coyle for Ryan Donato and a fourth-round pick was an absolute steal by Sweeney. Charlie Coyle has proven to be a core piece on this roster when playing in a role that fits him best, and that’s third-line center. Charlie Coyle is one of the best third-line centers in the league, but when he’s asked to play top-six minutes, it’s clear he’s playing above what his skill level allows. That said, acquiring Charlie Coyle for a fourth-round pick and a depth winger is a big success.
He also traded for Marcus Johansson, who played a crucial role in that 2019 Stanley Cup Final run. He shipped a second-round pick (Nikita Okhotiuk) and a fourth-round pick (Ethan Edwards) to New Jersey for Marcus Johansson at a 40 percent retained salary. Johansson helped the playoff run by scoring 11 points in 22 games during the 2018-2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He shocked the NHL when he most recently traded for Hampus Lindholm of the Anaheim Ducks. In what could be considered a blockbuster trade, the Bruins sent Urho Vaakkanainen, John Moore, a 2022 first-round pick (Nathan Gaucher), and two future seconds for Hampus Lindholm and Kodie Curran. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Haula for Zacha one-for-one trade. In my opinion, sending off an aging vet in favor of a budding forward is a significant win. This season will be the judge of that.
His best trade came in 2021 when he sent Anders Bjork and a 2021 second-round pick (Alexander Kisakov) to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Oskar Steen and Taylor Hall. Hall is an elite-level talent that provides a spark to the offense, and Steen is a valuable depth forward, while Anders Bjork hasn’t made much noise.
It’s easy to blame Don for his moves that negatively impact the team, but we never hear much of anything regarding his successful addition to this Boston Bruins organization. In my opinion, Don Sweeney gets far too much hate. Sure, there are some questionable moves, but those will always pop up when you’re the General Manager of a primary hockey market like Boston. Today we focus on the positives. Happy Don Sweeney days until the Bruins puck drop!