Is Don Sweeney Bringing Back The Big Bad Bruins?

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When Don Sweeney became the eight general manager of the Boston Bruins earlier this week, many fans were excited. They were hoping to see the end to the ways that led the B’s to the quagmire they got stuck in last year.

What really hurt the Boston Bruins last year? Not enough quality draft picks. An over-reliance of mediocre veterans. Refusing to play talented players while they were hot.

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Don Sweeney will be more than just the general manager. He will become the official voice of Cam Neely. Sweeney and Neely went up through the ranks together, playing for the B’s side-by-side for eight seasons.  Now, they’ll work in tandem to get the Bruins back on track for the Stanley Cup.

It was no secret that Neely and former GM Peter Chiarelli disagreed on how the Bruins should be run.  That rift was easily seen by how the Bruins tried to ‘tweak’ the fourth line. The Bruins attempted to alternate between speed and grit, and in the end just stuck with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille (both of them were given their walking papers after the season).

Now the Bruins have a chance to present a strong and actually united front when it comes to performance. Sweeney gave the media and the fans a taste of what is to come at the media presser on Wednesday.

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  • “We have to get back a little bit the aggressiveness that is lost in our group,” said the new GM about the team’s performance last year. “And maybe that’s a result of being a little stagnant at times, to get ourselves in situations where we didn’t make adjustments and changes that at times you were comfortable to a degree of some of the success that we had been achieving. The group had won a Stanley Cup and gotten back to the finals, there’s a lot to be said for that. We have a coach in place at this time that has a lot of success and been a big part of that. There will be some changes going forward, personnel changes, there will be staff member changes.”

    Claude Julien‘s job is still up in the air at this point.

    Sweeney and Neely want to see bigger bodies, and they want to see them crash the net. The acquisition of Joonas Kemppainen gives us a look into the mindset of the B’s front office. He’s 6’2″, 213lbs, and plays a lot like Carl Soderberg, but with a touch of darkness to his game. He’s physical, and if he can make the transition to North American ice, we’ve just replace Soderberg for substantially less money (Kemppainen’s NHL value of his two-way contract is $700,000).

    The Bruins will also need to take a look at Milan Lucic. Last year’s Lucic only put up eighteen goals. Also, last season was the first season where Lucic seemed tentative on the ice. Much of the killer instinct that made him such an indomitable player was missing. (Oh, to have Shawn Thornton as the thirteenth forward in Boston.) If Lucic can find his game, then the Bruins will certainly look better.

    Hopefully, the Bruins can find an adequate (and cheaper) replacement for Matt Bartkowski. The Bruins need a blueliner who has Bartkowski’s technical skating skill. But they need that skill paired to a mind that doesn’t constantly second guess themselves.

    The upcoming draft will certainly give us a good look at the Age of Sweeney. We’ll get to see if the Bruins are willing to adapt to the new NHL game, or that they’re doubling down on the old system and hoping for the best.

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