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christopher l. gasper

Don Sweeney has to take a share of blame for Bruins’ problems, and seven other thoughts

Bruins GM Don Sweeney (left) dismissed Bruce Cassidy (right) as coach in the first week of June.John Tlumacki

It seems every entertainment entity boasts a streaming service these days, stretching your credit card the way Stephen Curry’s shooting range does an NBA defense. The choices are endless and endlessly subjective; one person’s binge watch is another’s hard pass. The same subjectivity applies to sports opinions.

Here are a few items taking up bandwidth in my brain in a streaming of the sports consciousness:

1. The best power-play execution by the Bruins this season belongs to pals and coach-killing coconspirators president Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney. The duo convinced the Jacobs family that coach Bruce Cassidy was holding back the Spoked-Bs, not a roster peddling Erik Haula as a second-line center and serving up young players who arrive dead on the vine.


Bottom line: Cassidy was far better at his job than Sweeney, who received a multiyear extension Monday, has demonstrated to be at his since ascending to GM in 2015. Cassidy became a convenient fall guy for the Bruins’ glaring inability to get their prospect pipeline flowing. That was supposed to be Sweeney’s strength when he replaced Peter Chiarelli, architect of the only Bruins Stanley Cup winner post-Nixon presidency.

Instead, we have the infamous/calamitous 2015 draft and an endless parade of pedestrian prospects. The knock on Cassidy’s predecessor, Claude Julien, was also that he couldn’t maximize young talent. Maybe the problem isn’t the bench boss, but that these Maybe-Bs just aren’t good.

What's next for Don Sweeney?John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Sweeney has hits like blue-chip blue liner Charlie McAvoy and goalie Jeremy Swayman. But not nearly enough of them relative to the teams that are, to borrow the Bruins’ latest buzz phrase, “best in class” in the NHL. Sweeney has essentially coasted on the core he inherited.

It’s hard to assess the problems the Bruins have drafting and developing players and not think Sweeney, who has played a primary role in player development since 2006, is the one to blame.


2. It sure would be nice to hear from Bruins ownership on their rationale. The overall direction of the franchise feels rudderless. Are they rebuilding on the fly or loading up to take another Cup run with Patrice Bergeron & Co.? The GM gets a multiyear extension during a fork-in-the-road offseason and no one from the Boston’s First Family of Hockey can hop on a Zoom to explain? Disappointing.

If something is written that the Jacobses don’t like, they’ll let you know at light speed. It would be nice to see the same alacrity displayed in explaining major decisions.

3. I’ve been a staunch believer that the on-field impact of managers in baseball is overrated. There’s no coaching ‘em up like in football. Alex Cora is forcing me to reconsider that notion.

The Red Sox manager is a genuine difference-maker. He has coaxed the Sox back to life after a 10-19 start and to a torrid June. He’s doing it with his top two pitchers, Chris Sale and Nate Eovaldi, on the injured list; with a 1,000-piece jigsaw-puzzle bullpen of faceless relievers; and with lineups featuring assorted Dalbecs, Refsynders, and Corderos.

Despite being faced with an array of challenges, Alex Cora has the Red Sox in the mix again.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

It’s easy to see why the Sox and team president Sam Kennedy rushed to reinstate Cora as manager after his sign-stealing suspension.

4. On the Sox missing key players in Toronto because of vaccination hesitation: While respecting that it’s an individual choice, it’s hard to fathom that established All-Stars Trevor Story and Xander Bogaerts overcame their previous aversion to the COVID vaccine while fledgling big leaguers such as Tanner Houck and Jarren Duran remain holdouts.


5. Remember after Tom Brady departed the Patriots in 2020 when all those stories were proffered about how good an offseason Jarrett Stidham was having and how the team was perfectly content to go into the season with him as its starting quarterback? That was the Patriots Propaganda Machine.

It’s the same this offseason with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge leading the offensive coaching staff. The two of them are being propped up and trumped up as potential play-callers and offensive game-plan architects to a conspicuous degree.

6. Kyrie Irving resides in a Steve Jobs-ian “reality distortion field.” He incessantly needs to paint himself as a maverick, a martyr, or an iconoclast in every situation. The Brooklyn Nets won their contract stare-down with the mercurial point guard. Irving had to “settle” for opting in to the final year of his contract at $37 million instead of an extension.

Somehow Irving turned this obvious decision to take $37 million instead of potentially reuniting with LeBron James on the Los Angeles Lakers for the meager $6.4 million mid-level exception as an act of exceptionalism and rugged individualism.

“Normal people keep the world going, but those who dare to be different lead us into tomorrow. I’ve made my decision to opt in. See you in the fall. A11even,” Irving wrote to Shams Charania. Uh, OK, Kyrie.


7. We can put all those Kevin Durant-to-Boston delusions to rest now that consigliere Kyrie is back in Brooklyn. The residue of that discussion is my desire for greater respect for Celtics forward Jaylen Brown.

Any time Brown’s name comes up in trade talks, there’s none of the ululating or indignation that follows a suggestion to trade Marcus Smart. Brown isn’t embraced the way Jayson Tatum is as a franchise cornerstone and doesn’t inspire the mawkish attachment Smart evokes. But he doesn’t wilt when it matters like other Celtics.

In the playoffs, Brown led the Green in fourth-quarter scoring (6.4 points). He shot a team-best 56.4 percent on threes in the fourth while shooting 57.8 percent overall. Only Al Horford posted a better fourth-quarter shooting percentage (59.2) but on 41 fewer shots. Brown’s fourth-quarter effective field goal percentage, which accounts for 3-pointers being worth more, was 70 percent.

Jaylen Brown heads for the bench during Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

8. Bravo TV has nothing on the Cleveland Browns. You couldn’t find a more awkward relationship — or reconciliation — on reality TV than if the Browns had to slink back to Baker Mayfield. Cleveland dumped him for Deshaun Watson, who stands accused of sexually preying on female massage therapists, and could be suspended for the season.

Watson began his NFL disciplinary proceedings Tuesday. The Browns are desperate to compete this season. Mayfield, not former Patriot Jacoby Brissett, provides their only chance without Watson.

Christopher L. Gasper is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at christopher.gasper@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @cgasper.