Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has slowly molded his team into the one that he foresaw when he took the job with the Black and Gold back in the summer of 2006. Today he was granted the chance to keep on building for five more years.
Bruins Principal Charlie Jacobs officially unveiled Chiarelli’s four-year contract extension today during a TD Banknorth Garden press conference. The deal will start after Chiarelli completes the upcoming season, the last on his original four-year contract.
“Personally, I felt the need to have Peter extended, in that there were a number of dominoes that need to fall in terms of our hockey operations department,” Jacobs said about the timing of the deal, just a week before the draft and two weeks before free agency. “Given how proud we are of the team that Peter has assembled — on the ice, but also in the front office — and knowing what their status was contractually moving forward, we feel an impetus moving forward on getting an extension for two reasons. One, we didn’t want Peter entering the final year of his contract and that sort of lame-duck status, if you will. And two, knowing that important signings from both the coaching staff and front-office personnel needed to be re-upped as they were co-terminus with Peter’s contract, we wanted to send the right message as ownership to that front-office staff that we supported them and it was time.”
The Bruins finished with the second-best record in the NHL and the top record in the Eastern Conference last season before they advanced a round in the playoffs for the first time in a decade. Although a team with a lot of expectations then fell in the second round, the Bruins have come a long way since they missed the playoffs in the first two seasons after the lockout. Chiarelli was eager to stay and continue the Bruins on their current path.
“Certainly, I love the city and it’s a great place to bring up a family and that’s important to me. And the organization is something I want to be part of. I don’t want to be jumping around,” said the GM, who came to Boston from Ottawa after several years as the assistant GM for the Senators. “Hockey’s a tough sport. You see it among players and coaches, and now I think you’ll see it probably among GMs. There’s just people jumping from job to job and it’s something that I don’t want to do.
“And as far as Mr. Jacobs’ comments about ‘for the rest of my professional career,’ I know he and Charlie, they expect results and that’s what we’re going to give them. And nothing’s guaranteed in life, but I’m very happy to be here and want to be here for a long time.”
Chiarelli was refering to a quote from a few weeks ago, in which owner Jeremy Jacobs said that the Bruins didn’t hire Chiarelli for just four years but for the rest of his professional career. Nothing lasts forever, but Chiarelli’s tenure has a better chance of challenging that length of time now that he and his staff have the comfort of a long-term deal during which they can make things happen. Chiarelli can now not only build a winner for now, but also build toward the future, knowing that he might get to reap the rewards both times.
“It gives the management group the latitude to do things and to continue on with their vision so to speak, or plan. I think what we’ve tried to do since I’ve been here is instill certain attitudes and philosophies in the players and the other employees, staff, the coaches. So it just allows you to continue that,” he said. “I think what I’ve seen is I’ve seen a real increase in morale or just a heightened enthusiasm — whether it’s the players, coaches or the rest of the group — and to get where we are now and to build upon it even further is exciting. We’re entering into a new level of expectations with this team that is exciting. It’s more demanding but you like a challenge.”
Chiarelli’s next tasks, in addition to handling the draft June 26-27, is re-signing head coach Claude Julien, who reportedly is entering the final year of his deal, and also getting deals done with restricted free agents Phil Kessel, Matt Hunwick and Byron Bitz. Chiarelli does not comment on ongoing negotiations with players, but the GM said that he plans to sit down with Julien soon and “get something done.”
Chiarelli’s accomplishments on the job have earned him the right to keep on working. So there’s little doubt that what he wants to get done, he will.