Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, whose current contract expires this offseason, said on Wednesday that he expected his path forward to be determined “in short order.”
On Thursday, team president Cam Neely gave his GM a vote of confidence, saying that his plan is to sign Sweeney to a new deal, which could be finalized in the next couple days. Neely said Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and CEO Charlie Jacobs are on board with his plan.
“I started talking with Charlie and Mr. Jacobs after the deadline about extending Don, so my plan is to do that,” Neely said. “…I have to sit down with Don in the next day or two, and hopefully we’ll hammer something out.”
Neely said Sweeney was OK with going through this season without an extension in place. He also said no restrictions were placed on Sweeney in terms of making trades or signing players despite Sweeney’s own contract uncertainty.
When asked why it took so long to commit to Sweeney beyond the present, Neely said he wanted to see how the season played out. That would seemingly suggest that this was something of a prove-it season for Sweeney.
“To be honest, I really wanted to see how the year went,” Neely said. “We had a lot of changes last offseason. So I just really wanted to see how that played out. Obviously January, February, March were really good months for us. The team really came together. I thought we had a lot of depth. And I was happy with what he did at the deadline.”
What Sweeney did at the deadline was make a big splash by acquiring defenseman Hampus Lindholm, whom he immediately signed to an eight-year extension. Neely had previously been vocal about the team’s desire to find a minutes-eating, all-around left-shot defenseman. It seems likely that Sweeney finally getting one helped save his job, even though the season still ultimately ended with a first-round exit.
When it came to coach Bruce Cassidy, Neely did not express as much certainty or confidence, saying that he hasn’t talked to Sweeney about Cassidy’s future, and that it will ultimately be Sweeney’s call to either keep Cassidy or make a coaching change.
“I haven’t really talked to Don about it yet,” Neely said. “He hasn’t really given me an indication, probably because he wasn’t really sure what his situation was.”
Neely said that while he believes Cassidy is “a fantastic coach,” he does think the team needs to make some changes in terms of how they play.
“I think we have to look at making some changes as far as how we play and the way we do some of the things,” Neely said. “I think Bruce is a fantastic coach. He’s brought a lot of success to this organization. I like him as a coach. So we’ll see where it goes, but I do think we need to make some changes. And I think Bruce a couple days ago alluded to that, so we’ll see where that goes.”
What Neely is referring to, and what Cassidy alluded to on Tuesday, is playing a style that is more conducive to producing offense in the playoffs -- when there tends to be less open space and fewer chances on the rush -- rather than just the regular season.
“The playoffs certainly gave me some indication that we’ve gotta do a little better job of getting inside the dots,” Neely said. “Maybe not try to have such a rush mentality. I thought we were getting a little stubborn at times, turning pucks over at the blue line, whether it was the entry on the power play or 5-on-5. I think at times you have to take what’s given to you and sometimes you have to dump it in and go get it and grind it out.”