NHL Playoffs: Were Don Sweeney’s Comments Strong Enough?

Don Sweeney talking at a Boston Bruins press conference
Photo via NBC Sports

The Boston Bruins find themselves in a three-games-to-one hole and facing elimination against a Florida Panthers team that has dominated Boston for large stretches of the series, particularly in five-on-five play. But a secondary storyline has involved NHL officiating, which has called 21 of the 30 penalties in the five games against the Bruins. The focus on the officials became sharper in Game 4 when Panthers’ forward Sam Bennett cross-checked Boston’s Charlie Coyle into his own goaltender and scored. After review, the call stood much to the chagrin of the Bruins and their fans. Even media and non-Bruins fans were dumbfounded by the call. The Bruins Head Coach Jim Montgomery has laid off the officiating in his comments to the media thus far this series, but General Manager Don Sweeney held a press conference Monday to seemingly address the suspect officiating. Instead, Sweeney went the passive-aggressive route which might not have helped.

Sweeney explained his stance. “The overall premise I have, to be perfectly honest with you, is we should not be asking the coach after the game what they feel about the officiating and what happens,” Don Sweeney said, via Fluto Shinzawa. “You guys should really be focused on what we didn’t do well enough in the course of the game to win a hockey game. Those questions should either be directed at either the supervisor of officials, supervisor of the series and/or the officials. … You want full access and transparency? Then put the officials in front of the microphone to answer the question. They’re the only ones that have the experience to be able to handle whatever interpretation they applied to Rule 69.”

It was an indirect attempt at holding the officiating accountable, but acknowledging that the team was unwilling to pay any type of fine for disparaging remarks toward the referees was not as well received by the fans. The typical fine for such behavior has been $25,000 in the past, which is a small price to pay to send your message. Florida Head Coach Paul Maurice has done a masterful job with media and officials and seems to have had an effect on the series in that way. 

But the Bruins have decided to take a high road that should probably be less traveled. It’s time for the Bruins to show some fight and call out the officials. Pay the fine. In the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, St. Louis Blues Head Coach Craig Berube turned the series with comments about the officials with the media. From there, the momentum shifted, and a trip of the Bruins’ Noel Acciari went uncalled and entered Bruins’ lore.

Tuesday night could include the end of the Bruins’ season. In some regards, the team has overachieved. But as the second round rolls on, Boston has a chance to right some wrongs and move this series back to Boston for Game 6 Friday night. They won’t get any help, so they will have to take matters into their own hands.

Season 3. Episode 40. There’s Always Next Year Bruins Benders Podcast

Don Sweeney takes a dig at Jeremy Swayman and digs his heels in on Jake DeBrusk. Cam Neely mentions possible philosophy change. The Bruins want to be aggressive in free agency. What does it take to get Leon Draisaitl? Plus much more! DraftKings Sportsbook – Boston’s hometown Sportsbook is LIVE right here in Massachusetts! Bet local on all your favorite sports from the comfort of your own home with DraftKings. To celebrate, ALL new customers will receive up to TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS in BONUS bets when you sign up for DraftKings Sportsbook using code ITR! You can now bet local on money lines, spreads, props, and more with one of America’s top-rated Sportsbooks – DraftKings Sportsbook!  Download the DraftKings Sportsbook app and sign up with code ITR to get up to TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS in BONUS bets to use now that mobile sports betting is live in Massachusetts. That’s code ITR only at DraftKings Sportsbook. If you or a loved one is experiencing problems with gambling, call 800 327-5050 or visit helplineMA.org to speak with a trained specialist, free and confidentially, twenty four seven. 21+. Physically present in MA. Eligibility restrictions apply. Subject to regulatory licensing requirements. Eligibility and deposit restrictions apply. Opt in required. Bonus issued aree bets. Terms at draftkings.com/MA.
  1. Season 3. Episode 40. There’s Always Next Year
  2. Bruins Benders Postgame Live. Game 6 Recap
  3. Bruins Benders Postgame Live. Game 5 Recap
  4. Bruins Benders Postgame Live. Second Round Game 4 Recap
  5. Bruins Benders Postgame Live. Second Round Game 3 Recap

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