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DON SWEENEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

DON SWEENEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT

BOSTON BRUINS PRESS CONFERENCE

BOSTON BRUINS CEO CHARLIE JACOBS PRESS CONFERENCE, BOSTON BRUINS PRESIDENT CAM NEELY, BOSTON BRUINS GENERAL MANAGER DON SWEENEY AND BOSTON BRUINS CEO CHARLIE JACOBS PRESS CONFERENCE

Opening statements…
Charlie Jacobs: Good afternoon, everybody. Today is a great day, today is really I think a new era for Boston Bruins hockey. I hope our fan base out there, our season ticket holders, everyone in Bruins Nation, if you will, will realize this is a day to celebrate. Today is a culmination of roughly a month-long search to find our next GM. We’ve done a worldwide search, very thorough. I will not get into the candidates that we spoke to, other than to say with great pride we sit here and introduce Don Sweeney as our eighth general manager in Boston Bruins history. With that, I’ll ask Cam.

3777907_GCam Neely: So I’ll just walk through the process a little bit. It took longer than expected, a lot of it had to do with schedules, second interviews. We identified four candidates that we felt would be strong candidates to be the next GM of the Boston Bruins. Some with previous GM experience, others without. Ultimately, it boiled down to where we are as an organization, the team that we currently have, feeling like we don’t have to completely change a great deal. And the fact that Don knows the organization from top to bottom played a huge factor in the decision to go with Don Sweeney. He knows the coaching staff, he knows the scouts, he knows the players in Providence, he knows our prospects. He’s done a great job in the eight years that I’ve worked here. I’ve seen Don develop, I’ve seen his work ethic, and I have a good understanding of his commitment to the Boston Bruins. There’s been some reports that Harry Sinden was involved a little bit with the process and I’m gonna tell you he sat in on a few of the interviews; I’ve known Harry for close to 30 years at a professional level. Harry was there just more to advise a little bit, for me to bounce some things off of. I thought that was important, he’s got a lot of institutional knowledge, not just in the organization, obviously, but in the NHL in general. There’s also been some reports out there that because Don and I may have a friendship that’s one of the reasons why he was a strong candidate. I’ve been president of the Bruins since 2010, I have not hired a friend or someone close to me. I certainly wouldn’t hire a friend to be general manager of the Bruins. It’s a very important role in any organization and it’s something that I know Don is gonna do a great job at. First and foremost is we feel that Don will be extremely good at this job. He’s very passionate about the Bruins, he’s passionate about our fan base, and I think our fans will get to know Don a little bit better than they probably do. Having said that, I’m happy to announce Don as our eighth general manager and let Don give a little bit of flavor of what’s in store for this organization.

Claude-JulienDon Sweeney: First and foremost, obviously I’m very, very excited, grateful for the opportunity. I’m very cognizant and respectful of the process that has gone on, specifically obviously I want to thank Mr. Jacobs, Charlie, and the entire Jacobs family, Cam. It means a lot to have gone through this process as exhaustive at times as it was, as challenging as it was, and come out the other side knowing they have the confidence in me to take this organization forward. Tremendous amount of great people that I have the opportunity to work with day in, day out, that I have had the chance to get to know over the past eight years in every different capacity. I think that when I came through in the interview process, knowing that I was confident in being able to lead this group where it needs to go to, it was a good feeling to have, as I said earlier, them bestow that confidence in me. It really isn’t about deserving, to be perfectly honest. A lot of people have talked a lot about that and being the sentimental favorite. I didn’t believe that for a second and that’s out of respect for the number of candidates and the difficulty. There are only 30 jobs in the National Hockey League. A lot of candidates, every one of them, were equally, probably as qualified. Obviously the institutional knowledge on my behalf probably tipped a bit in my favor, in some regards. The work ethic piece, knowing that I have the passion to do whatever’s it gonna take to make decisions that at times will not be easy. But I’m gonna make them as to what’s best to the interest of the Boston Bruins and everybody that I have a chance to work with. I know that my family has been a big part of that, a big part of my whole makeup as a person. I have to thank them because there’s a lot of nights that as you go through this you’re not at home and you really should be at times. They’ve made a tremendous amount of sacrifices and there with me in lockstep all the way. I’m excited about the challenge in front of us to get back to where we need to get to. I know what it’s like to be booed in this city, to be cheered in this city, as a player, and I expect at times to take criticism. But that’s part of it. And I think – we finished with 96 points this year, we did not meet expectations, but we’re not as far away as what people may think. We have some challenges, we have some flexibility issues that we have to get back out in front of, that we have to address head on. And we have to get back a little bit the aggressiveness that is lost in our group. 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. When we decide to make those will be in due time, but I’ll make the right decisions based on what’s the best decision for the organization, not necessarily the easiest one, but I’ll make what I think is the best one in conjunction with the great number of people that I have a chance to work with. So with that, I’ll certainly open it up and answer I’m sure what will be a flurry of questions in a bunch of different areas.

On the future of Head Coach Claude Julien…
Don Sweeney: I’ve spoken with Claude [Julien]. I know it’s been reported that I had spoken to Claude as a prospective general manager candidate; that also is true. I spoke to Claude again this morning, and I spoke to him as a person now in a general manager’s seat. So I have some things that I want to sit down with Claude and go throw in a very orderly fashion as to where I think needs to change and what direction we need to change as a group. I also acknowledged to Claude during this whole process that I think tremendously of him as a coach and as a person, so I think it’s just about lining up philosophical approaches that I believe in, that he believes in, and that we can move the group forward. As I said, some of that will involve personnel decisions. Some of that will involve staff member decisions and or changes. That’s to be determined. He’s the coach of the Boston Bruins as of today; that’s for sure.

On the qualities he will look for in players that will be assets to the Bruins…
Don Sweeney: I think one of the distinct advantages I have is that I’ve been a Boston Bruin. 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. I know what resonates with our fan group. I know that our players have to have the will to want to play with that identity that I think you’re describing. You can have skill in any different fashion. Patrice Bergeron is a tremendously skilled player, but he’s a hard skilled player. All of our players have to understand that the four teams that are playing this week all have different attributes of skill, size, speed, grit — but they have a sacrifice level that it takes to win in the playoffs. You have to have a blend of that to get there; we have to have more aggression in our game. I looked at a Calgary game this year in February where a team that was as hungry as what we used to be steamrolled us in the third period. We created very, very few scoring chances, if any. They were in our end the whole night. They ended up winning the game on somewhat of a fluky bounce, but they had turned the tide of the game, and there were too many nights where we weren’t able to do that. In years past, we had been able to do that. We need to get back to that mentality, and we certainly have a number of players to lead in that direction and that charge, and if other players aren’t willing to do that, then we’re going to make sure we find and identify the players that are. And I believe in that. The structure, the accountability piece that it takes to win — if you’re part of this organization — has to be in place. Ryan Spooner’s a great example. I know Ryan Spooner as well as anybody in this organization. And people have talked about being impatient, about integrating him into our lineup — there’s a progression that it takes for all players. Some teams call it extra seasoning; other teams just call it, you know, impatience to integrate into a lineup. They have to be ready to do what it’s going to take to play at this level and to win at this level, and sometimes it takes a little more time than other players. And other times, players identify that they’re ready for that challenge. We’re going to be a team that identifies players that are capable and ready to do that, regardless of their age. It’s going to be based on their ability, their impact, that they can make on a nightly basis on our hockey club.

On the timeline for potentially making changes to the coaching staff…
Don Sweeney: I’m going to take the necessary time to evaluate. It will start with Claude [Julien], and we’ll dissect a little bit of the personnel pieces that he feels on teams that he’s had in the past that he’s had success with, and what we currently have, what we need to identify that could be missing — and we’ll go from there. From a staff standpoint, there’s a bit of a shift that needs to come — from our transition game, from our ability to create anxiety in other teams, because I think we, at times, had a retreat mentality. You can be the best defensive team in the National Hockey League, and all four teams playing — as I referenced earlier — are very good teams. They suppress what we call shot value and scoring opportunities very, very well. Their goaltenders are a big part of it. We have a very good goaltender. But if you don’t create anxiety in the other team and have the ability to score goals in a time fashion or generate quality chances, then you’re going to find yourself chasing the game. And this year, we chased the game too much. We were behind in third periods, we didn’t score enough third period goals as to what we normally have in the past, and there are reasons for that. So the staff, to answer your question — it takes some time to evaluate the pieces that we need to get in place that can take the group forward.

On his plans for the immediate future in terms of managing the salary cap…
Don Sweeney: Well, I referenced flexibility as an issue that we need to get back out in front of. There’s a difference between cap compliance and cap management, and I think we need to make sure that we’re very cognizant of the latter rather than the former. Everybody in the league has to deal with cap compliance, but the teams that are in position to have some flexibility to make some changes, being at the deadline — the opportunity to make trades exist when other teams…you have a trading partner. And wanting to explore every personnel option that’s available to us in that regard to find the right people. And a lot of those changes, I can promise — I can sit and do an interview process and promise all these changes are going to occur, but that’s not necessarily the reality. You have to go through the process and talk to other teams and see whether or not there’s an alignment there.

On whether he feels a need to put his stamp on the team as soon as he can…
Don Sweeney: No, there’s nothing about a stamp, per se. I think the timing — sometimes we’ve made trades that have been on other teams’ timeline instead of our own, and it’s put us in a difficult situation. I’d like to reverse that and be in a situation where you have plenty of teams calling you because you know you’re assets are there and you’re in a better position to make the best deal for you as opposed to forcing a deal somewhere else.

On how much Don Sweeney’s familiarity with the Bruins was weighed against the need for fresh eyes…
Cam Neely: Well, Don [Sweeney] has some fresh eyes as well. He’s been in the organization obviously for a while in the management group, but he’s got some fresh eyes. For me, based on where we’re at as a team, and the players that we currently have, and where we think we can go in a shorter period of time, it was very important. I think someone new coming in, after going through the process and interviewing candidates, someone new coming in — that time for them to get the understanding of everybody in the organization would take the bulk of the season, in my opinion.

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