Don Sweeney remains a man without a contract for next season, the B’s general manager confirmed Wednesday.
“I’m under contract for right now,” Sweeney said at his year-end media availability at Warrior. “I had a discussion later in the year as to the indication of where my path will be, and that will be determined in short order.”
Sweeney’s uncertain future comes on the heels of Boston’s first first-round exit since 2017, and with the team staring down the barrel of a wildly uncertain future both with team captain Patrice Bergeron’s playing status moving forward and limited cap space to make upgrades to the roster for 2022-23.
He’s also aware of the scrutiny that’s come throughout his seven-year tenure as the team’s general manager.
“I think I’ve been around this town long enough for people to know in terms of pressure and what I’m necessarily going to lump in myself and hold myself hopefully to the standard that is why I’m in this job,” Sweeney admitted. “The Jacobs family, the organization, the history of the Boston Bruins, you know, the standard that we’re being held to is exactly what I aspire to. And again, to be perfectly clear and honest, it’s the aspiration to be the best in class, on and off the ice. And when we’re not, we want to hear about it. You know, the criticisms are what they are, and nobody likes to hear them. Call it constructive criticism, I don’t necessarily feel that’s constructive, but it’s appropriate. And you need to hear them. You need to have evaluations. You need to look in the mirror and figure out what that guy’s staring back at you is saying. So that’s a big part of my makeup. But I think it aligns with what we try and accomplish, what we have tried to accomplish.”
Sweeney has had some hits — the acquire-and-sign move for Hampus Lindholm addressed a long-term need for the club, while free-agent additions such as Erik Haula, Linus Ullmark, and Derek Forbort eventually found their footing with the Bruins down the stretch — but it wasn’t enough to push the Bruins beyond where they thought they’d be this spring.
“I stand up here and say, if I can put the best team together, if Patrice wants to continue to play, that’s the mindset that we aspire to uphold. And winning is part of that. Absolutely part of that,” Sweeney said. “And what we’ve tried to do over the course of [time] since I’ve come back as part of not playing the game, is have we accomplished it all the time? No. It’s hard to win 50 games in a season, but you just don’t hang your hat on it. You got to go through, and I say, we left it on the table. We did not accomplish what we had hoped to do in the course of the season. Only one team does, but we aspire to be that team.
“We stand here today acknowledging we fell short. And that’s on me to try and pull the right strings and hopefully make the right decisions. And that’s part of professional sports, both as a player and management.”
As for reading the tea leaves of Sweeney’s future, the Bruins have let Sweeney make some minor moves, such as re-signing Jakub Zboril. Sweeney was also involved in all the exit interviews with players and coaches, and has started to lay the groundwork for potential contract extensions with pending free agents and players with another year left on their deal. But whether or not Sweeney is the guy actually helping finalize those moves, however, remains to be seen.
Sweeney’s future with the B’s could become a bit clearer Thursday when Cam Neely meets with the media.