Bruins GM Don Sweeney rips NHL for lack of accountability

BEDFORD, Mass. — Don Sweeney has a problem with the NHL. The Boston Bruins general manager did not appreciate that Jim Montgomery, Jeremy Swayman and Charlie Coyle had to answer questions after the Game 4 3-2 loss regarding why the NHL overturned the goaltender interference challenge while no one from the league had to do the same.

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Referees Frederick L’Ecuyer and Francis Charron are not available for media inquiries. The same goes for Kay Whitmore, the NHL’s series supervisor of officials, and NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom.

“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,” Sweeney said prior to the Bruins’ departure from Hanscom Field. “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.”

According to Sweeney, the GMs have discussed making officials and supervisors available for questions. Sweeney answered that it was above his pay grade when asked how the GMs could turn that discussion into action.

The NHL released a statement after Sam Bennett’s game-tying power-play goal was upheld. The shove by Bennett on Coyle, per the league, and the subsequent contact on Swayman did not prevent the goalie from playing his position in the crease prior to the Florida center’s goal. The statement was unsigned.

Sweeney was also critical of the Department of Player Safety for not issuing any kind of declaration on Bennett’s Game 3 sucker-punch of Brad Marchand. Bennett was neither penalized nor disciplined.

The Bruins captain was unavailable for Game 4 because of an upper-body injury. Marchand skated on his own on Monday, according to Sweeney, and is traveling with the team to South Florida.

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“He’s still day to day and hopefully continues. Guys have got to give him a chance,” Sweeney said, signaling that Marchand will be unavailable for Game 5 and that the Bruins would have to win to provide a Game 6 opportunity.

The Bruins did not see the head-on view of Bennett’s punch until Sunday. Sweeney did not know whether the NHL was aware of that angle.

Army, Ace and Biz went back to the tape on the shot Sam Bennett gave to Brad Marchand in Game 3 and they got some thoughts 👀 @armdog @ansoncarterla @biznasty2point0 pic.twitter.com/kqJRr2px5V — NHLonTNT (@NHL_On_TNT) May 12, 2024

“The Department of Player Safety needs to make a statement on how they interpret that situation,” said Sweeney. “We’ve seen every angle you can possibly imagine. No different than when Brad himself has been called to the carpet and comparables are looked at. That’s their job, their responsibility to protect the players. We have to respect that, whatever their judgment is.”

(Photo: Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

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