BostonBruins.com — On Wednesday afternoon, shortly after being introduced as the eighth General Manager in Boston Bruins history, Don Sweeney gave Bruins Nation a chance to get to know him a little better.
Sweeney conducted a Twitter chat after his introductory press conferences, taking questions from fans about his vision for the future of the team, his management style, the importance of incorporating youth, speed and skill into Boston’s lineup, and even his nerves as he prepared to throw out the first pitch at Fenway Park later that night.
In case you missed it, below is a compilation of Sweeney’s Q&A session in its entirety.
BOSTON — Charlie Jacobs and Cam Neely conducted an exhaustive, worldwide search that lasted over a month. They searched far and wide for the best candidate to lead the Bruins as the eighth general manager in club history.
When the search had concluded, the best candidate was someone who is already quite familiar with what it takes to succeed in Black & Gold.
That familiarity and that implicit understanding, said new GM Don Sweeney, is obviously not the only reason he was hired. But in his eyes, it is a significant part of why he will succeed.
“I think one of the distinct advantages I have is that I’ve been a Boston Bruin,” said Sweeney, who was introduced as general manager of the Bruins on Wednesday afternoon at TD Garden. “I was a Boston Bruin for 15 years, knocked on the doorstep of the Stanley Cup and then won it as part of the management group [in 2011].
“I know what resonates with our fan group. I know that our players have to have the will to want to play with that [Bruins] identity.”
BostonBruins.com — In all of the years Brad Marchand has donned the Spoked-B — all six of them — he had never been forced to pack up his locker so early.
He had never missed the playoffs — not until he looked up at the out-of-town scoreboard with a few minutes remaining in the Bruins’ final regular-season game at Tampa Bay on April 11 and saw that the Pittsburgh Penguins had beaten the Buffalo Sabres.
“It’s obviously very disappointing,” Marchand said on April 13, during Boston’s season-ending media availability. “It’s tough to describe. You have such high hopes coming into the year, and obviously, with this team, we’re expected to not just make the playoffs, but win the whole thing.”
There were still few minutes remaining in that final game at Tampa on April 11 when the Bruins learned their fate. They were left with little to play for in the waning minutes of what had officially become their last game of the 2014-15 season.
BostonBruins.com — Toward the end of the 2014-15 season, as Tuukka Rask’s number of games played continued to mount, the same question kept coming up over and over again.
Was it too much for him?
So two days after the season ended, Rask stood in front of his locker and took it upon himself to drive home one important point.
“This year, I just had to play, and I’m fine with that, just to make that clear,” he said. “But it’s not ideal, obviously.”
Of course, it’s never ideal for a goalie to play 70 games in a season, 12 games more than Rask’s prior career-high and the most by any Bruins goaltender in more than 50 years. It is never ideal for a goalie to appear in 19 of the final 21 games of the regular season.
But that, as Rask said many a time, is the situation the Bruins were in this season. They put themselves in a position where they needed to win every single game coming down the stretch, and the reigning Vezina Trophy winner gave them the best opportunity to win, night in and night out.
BostonBruins.com — Reilly Smith was the first to admit that this season did not go the way he wanted it to — for himself, and for his team.
“It’s tough,” he said during the Bruins’ season-ending media availability in mid-April — a much earlier date for Breakup Day than he anticipated back in September, when he arrived at training camp.
Even training camp did not evolve the way Smith thought it would. This entire season, it seems, was a series of unexpected twists and turns for the third-year pro.
Smith entered the summer of 2014 as a restricted free agent, and when training camp officially opened, Smith had yet to ink a new contract. He still worked out with teammate Torey Krug, who found himself in a similar contract situation, but by the time Smith first set foot in Boston’s dressing room, training camp was nearly over.
The unorthodox start to the year doubtlessly made the beginning of the 2014-15 season more difficult, especially considering Smith made his biggest, most notable impression on the Bruins during this exact stage of the 2013-14 season.
BostonBruins.com — Loui Eriksson wanted to start this season off the right way.
Last season was a difficult one for the Swedish forward, who arrived in Boston via trade in the summer of 2013. For the first time in his NHL career — for the first time in seven years — he was in a city other than Dallas. He was surrounded by new teammates and was operating in a drastically different system from the one he became accustomed to with the Stars. There were plenty of adjustments, as it were.
And then came the concussions.
The first one came just a few weeks into the season, in late October, and it would keep Eriksson out for a couple of weeks. Then, almost exactly one month later, came the second, and this one — his second in such a short period of time — would keep him out of the lineup for over a month.
BOSTON — When Dennis Seidenberg and Chris Kelly stepped out of the elevators and onto one of the pediatric floors at Mass General Hospital for Children on Wednesday afternoon, the smiles — on the faces of the patients, the parents, the doctors and the nurses — were instantaneous.
Though Seidenberg, Kelly and the rest of the Bruins are finished playing hockey for the 2014-15 season, their presence in the community is still felt, as evidenced by their visit this week. Seidenberg’s wife Becky serves as a co-chair of the hospital’s annual Storybook Ball, and in October 2014, one of the event’s auction items included a visit by Seidenberg and a fellow player to the hospital.
The 2014 Storybook Ball — which celebrated its 15th year of supporting pediatric health this past October — raised more than $1.8 million to support Mass General Hospital for Children’s efforts to enhance family-centered care, as well as pediatric community and global health initiatives. Becky Seidenberg serves as one of four co-chairs of the event.
BostonBruins.com — Almost exactly one year after his coming-out party during the 2014 postseason — when he firmly established himself as a legitimate NHL weapon — this is not how Dougie Hamilton expected the 2014-15 campaign to end.
One year ago, Hamilton had just played a significant role in leading the Bruins to the second round of the postseason. In 12 playoff games, he had two goals — including an overtime game-winner on the road in Detroit in the first round — and five assists for seven points. Coming into this season, he had every intention of keeping the momentum rolling, and through three quarters of the season, he did.
Then, as was a frequent refrain for the 2014-15 Bruins, injury struck and seemed to derail it all — just in time for the final playoff push.
“It’s obviously the time of the year that you want to be playing, and hard to watch and kind of just trying to cheer for the boys and everything,” Hamilton said during Boston’s season-ending media availability earlier this month. “Obviously not the position we want to be in right now, so I think we’re all pretty upset.”
BostonBruins.com — When asked whether this year’s Boston Bruins believed in themselves — whether they had faith that they could be a legitimate playoff contender — David Krejci was adamant.
“[With] 10 games left, I felt that we were going to be in,” Krejci said in mid-April, after the book had closed on the 2014-15 season. “I felt pretty strongly about it. It didn’t really matter if we made it [via] second wild card or third in our division; I felt like if we [got] in, we could be a really dangerous team for anyone, and we can go all the way again.”
But that, of course didn’t happen. On the final day of the regular season, the Bruins were knocked out of postseason contention, and for the first time in eight years, they realized they would be watching the playoffs rather than participating in them.
It was a tough pill for Krejci to swallow — not only the ending, but the course of his 2014-15 season in general.
BOSTON — Charlie Jacobs, CEO of Delaware North’s Boston Holdings, and Boston Bruins President Cam Neely addressed the media at TD Garden on Wednesday afternoon, several hours after announcing that Peter Chiarelli had been relieved of his duties as general manager of the Bruins.
Jacobs said he and Neely, among others, came to their decision on Tuesday at the conclusion of “an ongoing dialogue.” Chiarelli was informed of the decision on Wednesday morning, Jacobs said.
“It was really about, how do we improve our club moving forward?” Jacobs said. “And it’s a task — or, frankly, an audit — that we take every year after the season is over. This season happened to end a lot earlier than many [others] for us, and we’ve been very fortunate in that regard.
“I think Peter had a very good tenure here, when you think about the stretch of playoffs — one, trips to the playoffs, and two, success in the playoffs — that he’s had. But it became time, we believe, to separate and move forward.”