Bob “Swoop” Sweeney was a Bruins player for six years, and now for the last 22 years, he has worked to create a solid base for the Boston Bruins Foundation. Having earned the title of President, he has helped the Foundation to raise roughly $62 million doing an outstanding job. During this Centennial year the Foundation will donate $50,000 to a minimum of 20 New England charities.
Sweeney was recently honored at The Sports Museum’s annual The Tradition, receiving the ‘Hockey Legacy Award’, which was presented to him by Hockey Hall of Famer, Ray Bourque. One of the questions posed to him was how he earned the nickname “Swoop”. His answer: “It was given to me by Bruins center Keith Crowder, I was his first right wing, with Rick Middleton on the left wing. I used to hang onto the puck a lot and go behind the net and look for someone coming in, and Keith said, you remind me of “Swoop” Carleton.” For those who might not remember the name, Wayne Carleton’s name was placed on the 1970 Stanley Cup, he was the left wing on Derek Sanderson’s line when Bobby Orr scored his famous Cup-clinching goal in the fourth game of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals, and he can be seen on the left side of the classic photo.
Regarding the possibilities of the current Bruins team and their chance to make a deep playoff run, Sweeney confidently replied: “They obviously got off to a great start, then hit a bump in the road, which happens in the course of 82-games. I think the leadership has been solid by the Bruins for so long and for so many years, with a couple of hiccups I think in the late ‘90s, but this group has learned from the (Zdeno) Charas, the (Patrice) Bergerons, (Mark) Recchi when he was here, and so many guys on that 2011 team”.
Sweeney didn’t hide the excitement he feels when it comes to talking about the Boston Bruins Foundation. “This is an awesome time to be part of the Bruins organization, whether you are a player or work for the team, the 100th Anniversary will be my only shot at this. The opening weekend was amazing, seeing all the former players back, and then having the Centennial Gala which went through the Foundation, with many people working on it for over a year. It’s a tribute to all the former players about what they meant to the Bruins over time. The Foundation has come a long way since the Bruins Wives Carnival, which began here when Dave Poulin joined us; he kind of brought that (idea) from Philly (his former NHL team). At that time a lot of the players’ wives did a lot of the work, there was no Foundation obviously, and the team had small PR and Marketing departments.”
Reflecting back on his playing career, he cited some highs. “One of my favorite memories was my first game for Boston, and I had a stall right next to Ray Bourque, and I’ll never forget it, it was a Saturday afternoon and we were playing Calgary. Ray just made me feel so relaxed and made me feel like I belonged. I’ll never forget that, and skating on the ice for the first time and being a hometown kid, I’ll never forget that as well.” Touching on the subject of hometown kid, Sweeney stated further, “The one part about the Bruins in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s was after Terry (O’Reilly) left, we were coached by Mike Milbury, John Cunniff was a Boston boy, Mike obviously is a Boston boy, Andy Brickley, John Carter, Jeff Lazaro, Craig Janney up from Connecticut. It was nice, and then when “Carpey” (Bob Carpenter), he was traded here, we had a strong Boston connection. Ask any of these guys, if you get a chance to play for your hometown team, they will tell you; it’s something you’ll never forget. We had some good runs 1988-90, going to the finals and going to the semifinals twice. So out of that six year period, four years going to the Conference Finals was pretty special.”
When Bourque was asked to comment on Sweeney, he was quick with accolades as, “An amazing friend, an amazing teammate, and it’s amazing what he has done with the Foundation. Just a guy you could rely on and trust doing so many different things for the team, he’d score a big overtime goal, kill a penalty, he’d block a big shot, he’d have your back and when it was time to stand up for his teammates or whatever, he was there. He could play up and down the lineup, and kill penalties. Being one of my best friends, he is perfect for that job (Foundation), he connects with people and he has relationships with people, you meet him and he is sincere. When he left here I was very disappointed and upset when he was traded, I thought he was a key guy for the team with the chemistry and leadership, so when he was traded, not only was I upset, but also the whole team.” A well-deserved honor that a gentleman like Bob Sweeney should, and did receive on his special night!