Player Profile: Matt Sweeney
Matthew Sweeney is a professional hockey player with the Washington Stars of the IHA.
Sweeney was drafted 36th overall by the Dallas Longhorns with their third-round pick in the entry draft. Sweeney had spent most of his U18 career in the BC Amateur Hockey League (BCAHL), in and around his hometown of Victoria. Sweeney was not considered a particularly promising player, but the Longhorns had hoped that he could develop into a solid third liner for the organization, which was badly in need of forwards at the time.
Sweeney started the following year with the Longhorns, attending camp and performing well in the pre-season. He was selected to continue on the main roster through October, but was sent down to Dallas’s NCHL affiliate, the San Antonio Spurs. Sweeney failed to report to the NCHL for a game in mid-November as was subsequently suspended.
Following the suspension, it came to light that Sweeney and his agent were involved in a protracted rights battle with the Longhorns organization. Sweeney had engaged Barry Aronson, who also agented for stars like Mason Green of the LA Knights, to negotiate a better deal with the Longhorns. Sweeney argued that he was ready for IHA action, while the Longhorns disagreed. Sweeney and Aronson also argued that Sweeney ought to be offered an entry-level contract; the Longhorns had not signed him to an IHA contract, but an NCHL contract that allowed the Longhorns to move Sweeney up to the IHA for an indefinite amount of time, without taking a cap hit and without increasing his salary from the NCHL level.
The dispute continued until the trade deadline, when the IHA and the IHAPA arbitrated, arguing that the kind of deal the Longhorns had signed Sweeney to was not only unfair, but disallowed under IHA regulations. The Longhorns were subsequently forced to backpay Sweeney for any time he had played in the IHA. Rather than negotiate a new deal with Sweeney as ordered by the league, however, the Longhorns placed him on waivers. The Miami Sharks claimed the right-winger and he spent the remainder of the season with the Sharks.
In the off-season, Sweeney was dished to the Philadelphia Falcons. However, Sweeney was unhappy with the trade, claiming that it violated the deal he had signed with the Sharks, particularly a no-trade clause that cited particular teams Sweeney would or would not agree to be traded to. He failed to report to Falcons training camp and his rights were subsequently traded to the Washington Stars.
Sweeney signed an entry-level deal with the Stars, again engaging agent Barry Aronson to negotiate on his behalf. Sweeney reported to the Stars training camp. He was included on the opening night roster and continued to play with the team throughout the season, minus several stints in the NCHL. When asked why he reported to the Stars’ NCHL affiliate, but not the Longhorns, Sweeney replied that the Stars “know how to treat their players,” suggesting that the move had been negotiated with him in advance and that both parties agreed to the terms, and that the move would be beneficial to both. Sweeney blasted the Dallas organization for failure to treat their players as partners in a professional arrangement and abusing the system to avoid compensating players fairly.
Sweeney was born and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, where he lived with his parents and his two sisters, Melanie (older) and Moira (younger). As the only boy and the middle child, Sweeney often felt he was ignored in favor of his sisters; he was, however, accorded special privileges as the only boy. For example, his sisters were enrolled in dance and figure skating, while he was enrolled in hockey. Moira attends Western University in Ontario.
In 2016, Sweeney was placed on IR during the Stars playoff run. While the reason was not initially disclosed, it was later revealed that Sweeney had been diagnosed with APL leukemia and was seeking treatment.