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Why is there talk about “character concerns” with the Bruins’ first-round pick?

It appears to be nothing much, from what we can gather.

2021 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

At first glance, it appeared that the Bruins did quite well for themselves in the first round of Friday night’s NHL Entry Draft: they snagged a highly rated Swede with high-end talent late in the first round.

Not bad!

Shortly after he was selected, however, murmurs began that the newest Bruin, Fabian Lysell, had “character concerns” that caused him to fall further into the first round than he otherwise may have.

These “concerns” were amplified by being mentioned on the ESPN2 broadcast, but merely mentioned in passing with no context (which is pretty bad on the broadcast’s part).

To me, if you’re going to mention “character concerns” on national TV immediately after a kid gets drafted into the NHL, you owe it to your audience to elaborate; instead, we’ve seen a whole bunch of guys mention “rumblings” or “what I hear” without actually saying anything.

When you hear “character concerns,” you probably jump to the worst-case scenario. In Lysell’s case, it appears to be a situation where things are being overblown.

(It’s worth saying here that this is just from what we have been able to gather publicly, so if there’s more to the story, it’ll come out eventually.)

After being mentioned on the broadcast, it was Tweets like this and this that fanned the flames of “bad guy” takes on Lysell.

What are these reported character concerns?

It appears that it all stems from Lysell being unhappy with his playing time/team and letting that fact be known.

From The Hockey Writers (emphasis ours):

“Fabian Lysell is a very confident young man. He is so confident, in fact, that he demanded a move out from Frölunda HC’s J20 team in order to get meaningful playing time in the SHL this season. He eventually found a fit with Luleå HF with whom he played 26 games with season, tallying just two goals and three points along the way.”

So basically, Lysell’s character issues stem from being vocal about not liking his situation as a young player and speaking up about it.

Sure, there’s something to be said for “paying your dues” as a young guy and not rocking the boat, but knowing you can do better and advocating for yourself certainly isn’t a character flaw.

To put it mildly, hockey isn’t exactly a sport or a culture comfortable with big personalities. In fact, the NHL often seems like a race to see who can be the plainest person in the bunch.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see how some of the more traditional “hockey people” might see Lysell’s “brashness” as a character concern; I certainly don’t see if that way, but I’m not a true “hockey person.”

Do the Bruins have any concerns about Lysell’s character?

It was a one-word answer.

“No,” said GM Don Sweeney when asked about alleged character concerns on his post-first-round Zoom call.

“There’s growing up to be done for all young men and women and Fabian is no different in that regard,” Sweeney added. “He’s made some real steps. We challenged him in all the interview process in terms of how his maturity [was] progressing and felt satisfied that he’s made a lot of strides.”

“We’re aware of the challenges that he’s presented in certain situations that he might not have handled as well as he could,” Sweeney finished. “He’s grown from it and will be a better person overall from it.”

So there you have it! It would appear (on the surface, at least) that these alleged “concerns” have been overblown.

Lysell appears to truly believe that he deserves a shot to excel at the highest level; the Bruins appear to view that belief as confidence, not a character issue.