The presence of former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Boston should have the Bruins’ entire front office scared for their jobs.
That is, whoever feels they could be held responsible for the signing of forward Mitchell Miller, the start of a uniquely embarrassing chapter in the history of the franchise. The decision came as the result of a player vetting process that fell woefully short of the standard that any NHL team should hold. And that’s why the Bruins hired Lynch to head an “independent review” of their own front office. To find out who stepped in the most shit.
The Bruins’ independent internal investigation was discussed as part of the newest episode of the Sports Hub Underground podcast with myself and Ty Anderson, which you can listen to above. That part starts around the 43:40 mark. As one of the top Bruins insiders in the game, Ty’s words carry weight, and he feels no one in the organization is safe from Lynch’s findings.
“The statement from the Bruins did not have a name attached to it. It’s not [team president Cam] Neely. Is it ownership? Is it the legal team? Who’s saying this?” Ty said. “That would indicate to me that nobody is a sacred cow in this investigation.”
If Lynch’s recent cases in pro sports are any indication, jobs are hanging in the balance. Big ones.
MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JULY 07: President Cam Neely and General Manager Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins look on during Round One of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 07, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Lynch’s most high-profile sports case to date is the 2015 investigation of widespread corruption in FIFA, which occurred while she was serving as U.S. Attorney General. The transgressions uncovered were more criminal in nature, as compared to the Bruins. But it was also a clear case of Lynch looking into “substantial reputational concerns,” a subject that characterizes of much of her work as a litigator, and now hangs ominously over Causeway Street.
The FIFA investigation centered on charges of bribery and fraud, among others, and led to the indictment of nine officials and five outside businessmen. The more pertinent parallel to the Bruins probe is that it also led to the ouster of Sepp Blatter as FIFA president.
Lynch served as Attorney General until 2017, then returned to private practice at Paul, Weiss in 2019. Her biggest sports case since has been her role in the NFL’s investigation of misconduct within the Washington Commanders organization in 2020, then known as the Washington Football Team.
Team owner Dan Snyder’s post was safe when the league merely fined the team $10 million, without publicly releasing the results. Two years later, in the wake of an explosive report by Don Van Natta, Seth Wickersham, and Tisha Thompson at ESPN, Snyder has retained Bank of America Securities to help him sell the franchise.
LANDOVER, MD – DECEMBER 03: Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder looks on before a game between the New York Giants and Washington Redskins at FedExField on December 3, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Boston fans may be familiar with Lynch’s firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, because DeflateGate lead investigator Ted Wells is a partner there. Like the Wells Report, Lynch’s findings in her review of the Bruins will also be released publicly. Wherever the breakdown in the vetting process occurred, that will be laid bare. That is bad news for the Bruins’ front office, particularly anyone that had a hand in vetting Miller before signing him. However, it’s unclear just how high the problem went, and even when we have the results in front of us, blame and punishment may be hard to dole out.
In a situation like this, when Bruins ownership appears to be on a mission to restore the reputation of the spoked ‘B,’ the easiest move may be to dismiss both Neely and Sweeney, and anyone else whose hands got too dirty. Even if we’re talking about a rogue scout, or otherwise sloppy or dishonest vetting underneath the Bruins’ lead duo, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which ultimate responsibility doesn’t fall on at least one of them.
But the Bruins may want to secure proper cause to fire them over this. That’s where Lynch comes in.
“The easiest answer is, whoever was pounding the table the loudest saying ‘We gotta sign this kid’ is the guy who goes,” Ty added later in the Underground. “But who is that, and how do you find that?”
WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 07: U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch appears before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Capitol Hill May 7, 2015 in Washington, DC. The committee is hearing testimony on the Justice Departments budget request for FY2016. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Whatever (and whoever) Lynch finds in her review of the Bruins, the hockey world is going to see it first-hand. And right now, that has to make the entire front office uneasy.
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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.