Sweeney assures Bruins aren't 'deviating from long-term plan'

Sweeney assures Bruins aren't 'deviating from long-term plan'

BRIGHTON, Mass – One thing that Don Sweeney wanted to make clear in a sometimes convoluted explanation for firing Claude Julien was this: The Bruins are not in the market to trade off future assets for a short term burst this season.

NHL general managers were asking for star right wing David Pastrnak last summer when the Bruins were desperate to deal for a top-4 defenseman, and they’ve been inquiring about young, stud defensemen Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy as the Bruins look for a forward and D-men help prior to the March 1 trade deadline. In other words, other NHL managers know that Sweeney is under pressure to improve his hockey club and somehow push into this spring’s playoff picture.

“Keeping an eye towards the future, of what the young players that we have [drafted] in the last couple of years, they’re not here and they’re not able to help us today. That’s part of the patience part and example that is difficult – and bridging and understanding the challenges in terms of trying to bridge where our core players are and implementing our younger players. It’s a very difficult task to do. Winning, and qualifying for the playoffs…you’ve got every team in the East is in the hunt, so it’s challenging,” said Sweeney. “You never run or hide from that, the expectations have not changed for this organization. We expect the players to make a push and get into the playoffs. It was the same regard last year, and that was why we added at the trade deadline, because our players had been in position.

“It didn’t work, we fell just short. But I’m also committed, as I said last year, to the draft. I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak to try to find the D that we feel we still need to improve our group and add depth to. We acknowledge all the way along that we have some shortcomings in our roster, and expect either players to step forward and fill those voids, or continue to find the right personnel to fit in with the guys that have won and are looking forward to winning again. There will be an opportunity for players to come in and improve our hockey club both internally and obviously, and the trade deadline represents another opportunity. I’m not going to sacrifice the players that we feel are important and integral to how we get better. But if there is an opportunity to improve our hockey club with a long-term view, then that’s what we will do.”

So it's no great secret that opposing GM's are looking to lure the Bruins into making another short-sighted deal after making more than a few over the last couple of seasons. Sweeney assured all of those at today’s Julien-centered press conference that he has no plans to mortgage Boston’s future no matter what the expectations are from Bruins ownership.

So that means dealing Carlo and McAvoy are non-starters, and it would be hard to believe Sweeney would be willing to move young prospects like Zach Senyshyn, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson or Jake DeBrusk unless it was a star, impact player coming back to Boston. 

“I’m not deviating from the plan; integrating, whether it’s Brandon Carlo or maintaining the players that we feel are on the horizon, not necessarily playing here right now, or some of the guys playing in Providence and developing,” said Sweeney. “I’m not deviating from [the long term plan]. I would like to continue to surround and build around our core and strengthen, deepen the talent pool throughout our organization. It something I’ve been committed to and I’m not going to deviate from it.”

Interestingly enough Sweeney said the Bruins haven’t even truly decided whether they’re going to be buyers or sellers at the deadline, and that will be decided over the next three weeks with the B’s mostly sitting and watching – with eight games between now and the trade deadline in three weeks -- what happens by virtue of this season’s quirky schedule. 

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

Donato misses Bruins practice for Harvard class commitment

It might have caused a ripple when Ryan Donato wasn’t on the ice on Tuesday afternoon in St. Louis for Bruins practice on the day after his brilliant, three-point NHL debut for the Black and Gold. But the 21-year-old Donato was still back in the Boston area fulfilling some class requirements at Harvard University to help him close out the current semester properly, and not lose the credits that will keep him in line with fulfilling his junior year at Harvard University.

Believe it or not, the schoolwork is important to the newest member of the Boston Bruins and he intends to study and hit the books on his road trips, and also intends to take classes in the summertime to still graduate on time next season.

“I’m planning on finishing the semester academically. I want to finish the semester academically,” said Donato, after Monday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena prior to last night’s debut vs. Columbus. “Obviously it’s going to be something that’s difficult, but for me it was a dream to graduate from Harvard. I’m putting that off a little bit, but I need to be able to finish this semester in order to have that opportunity, and not put it off for another couple of years. I want to finish out the semester.”

Donato is also still living in the Harvard dorms while “moonlighting” as an NHL hockey player for the rest of the season, but that isn’t all so uncommon among some of the college players that leave school early. Charlie McAvoy was similarly living in the Boston University dorms last spring through Boston’s playoff run, and didn’t clear out of his college living situation until after the Black and Gold had been eliminated by the Ottawa Senators last April.

Missing practices on an NHL schedule is certainly a new one with, Donato, however, and takes the student-athlete concept to a whole new level for somebody that's already turned pro. One has to expect this was one of the things being discussed in full when the Donato family, Ryan's agent and the Bruins discussed his contract terms over the weekend before coming to an agreement.

Along with Donato, who is scheduled to fly into St. Louis and play against the Blues on Wednesday night, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, David Backes, Jake DeBrusk, Rick Nash and Torey Krug were all missing from the ice at Tuesday’s team practice ahead of a four game road trip against Western Conference opponents.


Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

File photo

Morning Skate: Claude's Habs 'not a very good team'

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while not really digging these forecasts of more snow.

*You know, if he weren’t making millions and millions of dollars I might actually feel bad for ol' Claude Julien up in Montreal busting out the “We’re not a very good team” soliloquy with the Habs. That team flat out stinks this season and these past few weeks it can’t be fun at all being the head coach of that dumpster fire.

*Darren Dreger says there is no rush for the Toronto Maple Leafs to bring back Auston Matthews before he’s ready to go, and that’s absolutely the case so close to the playoffs.

*Here are five Hart Trophy-caliber players that won’t get a sniff of the voting, but deserve some attention nonetheless. There are no Bruins players on the list if you’re wondering, but some pretty good ones in Johnny Gaudreau and Aleksander Barkov.

*The NHL general managers are weighing potential changes to the goalie-interference interpretation ahead of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

*While it still looks a Swedish defenseman is going to be the No. 1 overall pick this June, there are some other players rocketing up the list.

*For something completely different: The definitive ranking of Girl Scout cookies from best-to-worst that we’ve all been waiting for.

*Song of the Week: Haven’t done one of these in a long, long time, but I like this Calvin Harris/Katy Perry/Pharrell Williams tune that I hadn’t heard until the past couple of days.