I always thought Don Sweeney had an underrated pump.
The former Boston Bruins defenseman didn’t score much — he averaged just over three goals per season in 16 total seasons in the NHL. But when he did score, that pump, let me tell ya. Underrated.
Sweeney’s work as current general manager of the Bruins gets overlooked as well. Some might argue that statement, based on the fact that Sweeney won the “General Manager of the Year” award at the end of last season. But that’s an award voted on by a total of 41 individuals: other general managers, league executives, and select media. A vote for Sweeney as “GM of the Year” isn’t necessarily a vote for “Top story in Boston sports.”
And that’s how I’m gauging Sweeney’s newsworthy-ness in this town. His success is acknowledged and respected, but he’s not stealing headlines from any of the drama that surrounds the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics.
It depends on who you read, watch, or listen to, of course. By now, hockey fans — especially in Boston — know exactly where to look when it comes to hockey talk. There’s no shortage of hockey columns or blogs written on the web or in print. On the radio, “Felger and Mazz” own that real estate. In podcast form, “Spittin’ Chiclets” is a skate-sharpener away from being the one and only place that hockey fans should go for their on-ice needs — heck, they’ll even take care of your off-ice needs with a bottle of Pink Whitney. And on TV, well, you’ve got official Bruins coverage on NESN.
I know, I know, I have a show that you should also listen to, a Youtube channel that you should hit subscribe on, and this column that you should always read. But if we’re being honest here, I’ve produced less and less hockey-related content over the years.
It’s nothing against hockey. I love hockey. From my first day at Arnie’s Army down the little rink in Southie, to the casual weekly shinny game I take part in to this day, I’ve always had a love for the game. And I always will. But even I’m guilty of getting caught up in the drama, the controversy, and everything else that comes along with the Boston sports scene, outside of the Bruins.
Right now though, it’s clear, with a 5-1 start to the 2019-20 season: Sweeney has built a juggernaut that’s ready to make its second-straight run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Is that a prediction? No. It’s just an acknowledgment of the moves Sweeney’s made to create and also preserve a group that just suffered one of the most heartbreaking Game 7 losses in franchise history.
Over the summer, Sweeney didn’t just take his “GM of the Year” award and sit by the pool. Before the season began, he finalized the re-signing of 21 year-old defenseman Charlie McAvoy and 22-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo. McAvoy’s deal is for three years at an average annual value of $4.9 million. Carlo’s deal is for two years at an average annual value of $2.85 million.
Both were restricted free agents, but both are also key pieces to a Bruins team that, in a perfect world, would keep most of its young core in tact at the right price.
Factor in a few other notable deals that Sweeney’s made with some of the Bruins’ best players — David Pastrnak’s six-year contract with an average annual value of $6.7 million, and Brad Marchand’s eight-year contract with an average annual salary of $6.1 million — and you’ve got a general manager who’s making the rest of the NHL look foolish.
Not enough can be said about the way Sweeney’s been able to work his magic with discounted deals for his valuable pieces. Yet, some of us rarely find the time to put all the Boston sports drama aside and applaud it.
Turn to center ice and celebrate away, Don. You deserve it.
Listen to “The Danny Picard Show” on PodcastOne, iTunes, and Spotify. Watch “dPs LIVE” on YouTube and Twitch. Follow him on Twitter @DannyPicard. Check out all his work at dannypicard.com