Chiarelli signs contract extension
BOSTON -- Peter Chiarelli inherited a Bruins team that had the NHL's fifth worst record and needed only three seasons to build a club that finished second best.
Now he has five more years to try to put together a Stanley Cup champion.
Boston's general manager received a four-year extension on top of the one season remaining on his original four-year deal after what he and the team said were smooth negotiations.
"For them to have said to me at one point in the year, 'We're going to extend you,' that was all I needed to know," Chiarelli said Tuesday, one day after the Bruins announced the agreement. "I'm very happy to be here and want to be here for a long time."
Boston didn't improve much in his first season, finishing with two more points in 2006-07 than it did the previous season under general manager Mike O'Connell. The Bruins improved by 18 points the next season and earned the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
They went up another 22 points this past season to finish with 116, one fewer than the Presidents' Trophy-winning San Jose Sharks.
"We didn't want Peter entering the final year of his contract in that sort of lame-duck status," Bruins executive vice president Charlie Jacobs said. With coaches and other members of Chiarelli's management team also having contracts with one year remaining, "we wanted to send the right message as ownership to that front office staff that we supported them," Jacobs added.
Claude Julien also is expected to get an extension after two seasons as coach. He took over when Dave Lewis, hired by Chiarelli, was fired after one season.
"I'm going to sit down with Claude and we'll get something done shortly," Chiarelli said.
The Bruins had great depth in their lineup last season and swept Montreal 4-0 in the opening playoff round, their first series win since 1999. But their hopes of bringing the franchise its first Stanley Cup title since 1972 ended when they were eliminated in the second round by Carolina in seven games.
Chiarelli kept watching the remaining playoff teams and noticed a difference between some of them and the Bruins.
"I saw guys that were sacrificing their bodies every shift, and we're not at that point yet," he said. "It makes it more clear where we have to be, and we're getting there."
He refused to discuss any talks involving player contracts. The team's key restricted free agent is Phil Kessel, whose 36 goals led the Bruins and were tied for 12th in the NHL.
Chiarelli said his own extension through 2013-14 "gives the management group latitude to do things and to continue on with their vision. ... We're entering into a new level of expectation for this team that is exciting and more demanding, but you like a challenge."
He had plenty of those in his first year as general manager after spending the previous two years as assistant general manager of the Ottawa Senators.
There was frequent roster juggling, and Lewis didn't work out as coach. Chiarelli was still learning while having to make important decisions.
"Sometimes they don't go as planned. As long as you're making progress and making more good decisions than bad decisions, I think is what's important," he said. "You learn along the way."
He also works for an owner, Jeremy Jacobs, who lets Chiarelli make decisions, whether those involve trading players, signing free agents or negotiating contracts with coaches.
"They've allowed me to manage from the very beginning until now," he said. "When you're a manager and you have to make ... 100 decisions a day on certain things you really appreciate the support from ownership."
In three seasons under Chiarelli, the Bruins are 129-89-28.
"There's a gnawing at the back of my head that isn't normally there, and it's about this last playoff series, it's about this season, and it's about unfinished business," Chiarelli told reporters after the team was eliminated from the playoffs.
"We're still all collectively disappointed with the way it ended. I think what's important to note is that, throughout the course of the year, the level of expectation has risen and risen and risen, and that's a good thing. The fact that we're disappointed here today, while it doesn't feel good, it bodes well for the future," he said.
Chiarelli, who was voted NHL Executive of the Year by a Sporting News poll of his peers, made several key acquisitions in his time in Boston, including Norris Trophy finalist Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, Michael Ryder, Mark Recchi and Blake Wheeler. He is also the person who brought head coach Claude Julien, a finalist for this year's coach of the year award, to Boston.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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