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Stanley Sinks in for Sweeney

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney kept his profile low during his local date with the Stanley Cup, but true to form, the Harvard University alum remembered his history and made sure to thank one of the most memorable personalities in US hockey and Harvard hockey lore before circling back to thank the most important names in his own personal history.

Don Sweeney after Game 7 (photo: Babineau).
"My boys [Jarrod and Tyler] came with me and We went over to Jack Kirrane's house in Brookline," said Sweeney. "Jack was the captain of the 1960 Olympic team that won in Squaw Valley.

"He was just instrumental during my time at Harvard, we developed a nice long time relationship and I just thought so highly of him as a person. He's run into some health issues and he lost his wife not too long ago and I just thought, 'If there's anybody that will appreciate this it will be him.'"

Kirrane was a member of Team USA during the 1948 and 1960 Olympic games and earned a gold medal during the United State's first "Miracle on Ice." A Brookline fire firefighter (who famously had to take an unpaid leave of absence during the Olympics and sell his pickup truck to even afford a plane ticket to get to the tryout), Kirrane was also the longtime rink manager for the Crimson.

"He couldn't come to the barbeque I was planning to have during the day and the evening, so I felt like, 'I'll bring it to him.' So that's how I started the day," said Sweeney, who played on the Crimson blueline from 1984-88.

"He ran the Arena for I-can't-tell-ya how many years, so he was an institution over there for a long time," he added. "You go ahead and ask any of the Harvard hockey guys -- male or female -- and they'll fill you in that Jack Kirrane was a big part of all of our lives."

Sweeney also made sure to take the necessary time to thank other instrumental people from his family's circle of friends.

"I felt I needed to take it to some very, very good friends of ours...they used to be our neighbors. The Arakelian family had graciously offered to host the barbecue party at their house," said Sweeney, who is in the process of moving his own household. "The Arakelians own Baystate Pool Supplies, so I took it to the office building to let the people who work for them to see it.

"So I walked in unannounced and they all got to have their picture taken with it."

Like many of the people who get to have a day with Lord Stanley, Sweeney also chose to take the time to thank some local hometown heroes.

"We went to the Police and Fire department," said the former B's defenseman. "Some of those guys were on duty and wouldn't have had the opportunity to see it, so I stopped in there for a tour."

Then it was picture time for the Sweeneys, Arakelians and company.

"We went to the Arakelien house and we had a bunch of family portraits and pictures with a professional photographer for their family and mine and some real close friends prior to the mass of kids and families arriving in the afternoon," said Sweeney.

The Sweeney family enjoy some ice cream from the Cup.
And finally it was time to eat.

"We had a big barbecue and people had a chance to take the picture taken with it," said Sweeney, who wanted to make sure that lots of people had a chance to share in the B's good fortune.

"It might only come once in a lifetime," said Sweeney, who added, "We hope it's more than once -- but it took a long time to get it in the first place!"

However, Sweeney was very serious about the Stanley Cup as a symbol of hockey's highest achievement.

"When we won it I was more emotional than I would've thought," explained the B's assistant GM, who was a member of the B's organization as a player from 1988 through 2003.

"I have an incredible amount of respect for the guys who were able to close the deal -- I was part of a team that wasn't able to and I know the toll it takes on you."

As such, Sweeney's guests strictly followed the few rules for etiquette around the Stanley Cup.

"You could certainly hug it, kiss it, whatever you like to do," explained Sweeney, "but nobody was going to lift that thing. And some people said, 'Are you going to drink out of it?'"

The former Black & Gold blueliner did not and neither did his guests.

"If you don't win it as a player I don't think you deserve to drink out of it. That's my own personal [feeling]. Everybody else can do what they want, okay, that's just how I felt...[given] the respect factor for the guys that have accomplished it," he said.

For Sweeney, who played 1115 NHL games, just having the Cup for a day helped the B's achievement hit home.

"It brought a real sense of reality to the accomplishment that all of us get to share," he said. "Every one of us [in the organization] worked incredibly hard to try and put us in a position to allow these guys to get it done and they went out and got it done."

And, terms of his own personal part of the accomplishment, Sweeney said that his family and friends deserved a lot of credit, too.

"My immediate family has been there every step of the way," said Sweeney. "It starts with my mom and dad, my brother and sister and their families...and, obviously, friends that impact [your life] and have stuck around."

But Sweeney said his most important moments with the Cup were reserved for his sons and his wife Christine.

"A lot of it, for me, focused on my two boys and my wife," emphasized Sweeney. "I just felt like I wanted to stand up there with the Cup beside us and have everybody understand that what she's meant along this path -- this crazy journey that I've been on to try and win that thing -- and I've been 21 years of that 39 that we hadn't won.

"She does understand that. She's a former athlete [a figure skater, who with pairs partner Doug Ladret, won the 1988 Canadian Figure Skating Championships] but I wanted everyone to know that she shares in this thing as much as I do.

"And I wanted her beside me for me to be able to tell everybody...that this is as much your journey as it has been mine," he said.
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