Don Sweeney has to be fired. Even if the NHL has to force the Bruins to do it.
The NHL is a weird thing like all pro-sports leagues are weird. The league is over there, as one thing that functions as a business, and the individual teams are separate corporate entities in their own right. They have independence, and yet we have seen that the NHL under Gary Bettman is willing to put limits on their freedom.
At the time Bettman made those choices to decide for the Florida Panthers if Joel Quenneville should remain in the NHL and for the Winnipeg Jets if Kevin Cheveldayoff could remain their GM, he set a precedent. He made it obvious that the teams aren’t wholly free to carry on as they wish, as he had already done when he declared John Chayka ineligible to take a job with an NHL team. He’s not been shy about using unilateral power to preserve the image of the league when misdeeds become public
And now we come to Don Sweeney, not many months later, doing a thing that is inexplicable in signing an unreconstructed racist abuser to an NHL contract. He has acted as if he is a man entitled to disregard the suffering of others, the wishes of the NHL, the good name of the Bruins, the NHL, the sport, and he has decided for reasons I won’t publicly speculate on that some USHL points and the potential of a prospect is all he needs to concern himself with.
He’s wrong about that.
The NHL has made it very clear that their private business decisions can be scrutinized and that the behaviour of people allowed to act in the name of the NHL is the direct concern of Gary Bettman, both as Commissioner and personally. And yes, I know he is not the paragon of moral purity. That’s actually the point – even he has limits.
But beyond the NHL’s limits, we, as a society that this hockey league is a part of, have limits. Here’s mine: I don’t want to cry over the words of a young man who just wanted friends because of something the NHL did. The NHL is breaking hearts here. One that matters more than all the rest of us combined, but nonetheless, our hearts bleed too. And no hockey team or player is worth that. No goals, no glory, no wins, no Cups. No GM.
Don Sweeney broke the trust of the Bruins fans, of all hockey fans, of just ordinary decent people, and he should have the damn intestinal fortitude to quit in disgrace. He is a disgrace. He has damaged a young man, his family and the NHL itself.
He has to go.