What the Bruins’ Don Sweeney said after winning GM of the Year

"I can’t say enough for what Charlie and Marcus did for our hockey club."

Don Sweeney Bruins General Manager
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney won the award for the NHL's GM of the year Wednesday. Bruce Bennett / Getty Images

At the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said winning the NHL general manager of the year award “is a testament to the hard work of the organization,” and not reflective of one person’s efforts.

“When you get the support of the people you work with and the players are so committed, you’re just trying to find potentially missing pieces,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney’s win comes after a year in which he made depth signings in forwards Chris Wagner and Joakim Nordstrom, as well as defenseman John Moore, in free agency last summer. During the 2018-19 season, Sweeney added Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson to the Bruins’ roster before the NHL’s trade deadline, bolstering what would become two-thirds of one of the team’s best lines throughout the NHL playoffs.


“We’ve worked hard the last few years to kind of hone in on some areas that we felt we could fill some gaps,” Sweeney told reporters after accepting the award. “And I can’t say enough for what Charlie and Marcus did for our hockey club, coming in and fitting in seamlessly. Obviously, our leadership group and every one of our players in the locker room welcomed them.”

Sweeney, 52, was named general manager in May 2015 after nine years working within the team’s front office. In the four years since he has guided the team through a coaching change and drafted key players on the team’s roster today, such as defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, as well as forward Jake DeBrusk.

Sweeney said it was personally impactful for him to accept the award with his wife, Christine Hough, a former Olympian figure skater, joining him at the ceremony.

“That was very important for me to be able to express the gratitude that I have for [Huogh] and my two boys who have been so supportive of every, really, small thing,” Sweeney said. “It takes away what, at times, is the ideals of a family, to be together. I’m incredibly grateful. My wife is the rock of this family and she’s supported me in this league for all my own aspirations, and it was important to be able to acknowledge it to her.”


Sweeney also thanked the leadership within the Bruins’ locker room as well as the team’s owners, Jeremy Jacobs and son Charlie, as well as team president Cam Neely.

“Mr. Jacobs, Charlie, Cam, when you go to ask for something, they do everything they possibly can,” Sweeney said.

The nature of Sweeney’s success means a quick turnaround for him and his front office; the Stanley Cup Final ended just eight days ago and the NHL Entry Draft is this weekend, followed by the free agency period starting July 1.

While Sweeney said the Bruins’ scouting staff found time for prep work on the draft during the playoff run, he has work remaining to do on deciding what direction to take the Bruins in this summer.

“I think from a pro perspective, you’re in a bunker during the Stanley Cup Playoffs,” Sweeney said. “When you go that far you’re not listening to some of the internal discussions you want to have because you know you’re not making phone calls. You’ve got players that are invested and you’re not going to do that, you’re not ripping away anything from what they’re trying to accomplish. But yeah, it’s difficult to turn the page, but that’s just what the job entails.”


The NHL’s 31 general managers and a panel of league executives and media members vote on the award at the conclusion of the playoffs’ second round. According to the NHL, Sweeney was named on 26 of 41 ballots.