|08.29.13 at 7:31 pm ET|
Why are the Bruins so good? Duh, it’s because they’re from Boston and they all “get it” and nobody else wants to win as badly as they do.
Nope, it’s because they have a really good roster and a really good coach. The man responsible for that was rewarded on Thursday, as the B’s announced a four-year extension for general manager Peter Chiarelli. Since coming to the Bruins in 2006, Chiarelli has revamped the roster and taken the Bruins from cellar-dwellers to annual Stanley Cup contenders and 2011 champs.
Though he often flies under the radar, Chiarelli has established himself as one of the best (if not the best) general managers in Boston in recent memory. He hasn’t been perfect, but he also hasn’t been afraid to do the unpopular thing. He’s made big moves (trading Phil Kessel and later Tyler Seguin) and he’s made smaller splashes where fans were calling for bigger ones (Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley).
It’s easy to forget how these Bruins rosters came about over the years, so here’s a look at Chiarelli’s best and worst moves as B’s general manager.
(Definitely not) signing Zdeno Chara
Chiarelli, who was working as the assistant general manager of the Senators, was hired by the Bruins on May 26, 2006, though he couldn’t begin working for the Bruins until July 15. Senators free agent defenseman Zdeno Chara, who highly respected Chiarelli, turned down a nice offer from the Kings and signed with the Bruins on July 1. So too did Marc Savard, which makes for a rare case in which a team was able to build itself into a contender via free agency in a salary cap league (Drew Brees with the Saints also comes to mind).
Technically, it was interim general manager Jeff Gorton who made those signings — technically — but in getting Chiarelli, the Bruins were able to get Chara, and he has been the biggest piece of this whole thing.
(It should be noted that the Bruins made some important moves under Gorton. Chiarelli was actually sitting at the Senators’ table when the Bruins “reached” for Milan Lucic with the 50th overall pick, took Brad Marchand 71st overall and traded for some kid named Tuukka Rask.)
Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau for Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew
The Bruins moved two-thirds of their return from the Joe Thornton deal (they’d later trade Marco Sturm for, in Chiarelli’s words, “nothing”) so it had to hurt some B’s fans to not see them get huge names for what they’d gotten for a Hart winner, but Ference ended up being a major part of both Cup runs for the Bruins. He was the unsung hero of the 2011 championship team and played a big role in neutralizing the Penguins when the B’s allowed just two goals to them in the Eastern Conference finals last season. Factor in what he did for team chemistry and his contributions to the community, and Ference was worth both the trade and the three-year, $6.75 million extension the B’s gave him.
Byron Bitz, Craig Weller and Tampa Bay’s 2010 second-round pick for Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski
We’ll see what happens with second-round pick Alex Petrovic in Florida, but Bitz has played 17 NHL games since the 2010 trade, while Weller played last season in Germany. Meanwhile, the Bruins got a top-pairing defenseman in Seidenberg and a very good young defenseman in Bartkowski, who scored in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs and should stick in the NHL this season. Read the rest of this entry »
|08.29.13 at 2:50 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Thursday that they have given general manager Peter Chiarelli a four-year contract extension that will run through the 2017-18 season. Chiarelli was entering the final year of his current contract.
The Bruins have reached the postseason in six of Chiarelli’s seven seasons as general manager and have reached the Stanley Cup finals twice, winning it all in 2011. He is one of three general managers to win a Cup with the Bruins, as they won multiple Cups under Art Ross and Milt Schmidt.
The Harvard graduate served as a player agent after getting his law degree and passing the bar following his playing days. He then joined the Senators, where he was the director of legal relations before becoming assistant to the general manager.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|08.28.13 at 2:19 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton, who is entering the last year of a two-year, $2.2 million deal, said Wednesday that he does not plan on retiring after the season and would like to play “another year or two at least” with the Bruins.
This comes as little surprise, as Thornton said earlier this month at his annual Putts & Punches for Parkinson’s tournament that he wants another contract. Thornton noted Wednesday that prior to signing with the Bruins before the 2007-08 season, he had played on one-year deals and wouldn’t have a problem going back to them at this contract’s expiration.
“I’ve got this year. I’m going to worry this year,” Thornton told WEEI.com. “Hopefully it works out and obviously I’d like to play another year or two at least, and preferably with the Bruins, but that stuff’s kind of out of my hands.”
Thornton, 36, spent time in the Toronto, Chicago and Anaheim organizations before settling in with the Bruins, where he has become a regular at the NHL level. His best season came in 2010-11, when he had 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points, all of which were career highs. He has led the Bruins in penalty minutes in each of the last four seasons.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|08.27.13 at 2:12 pm ET|
Bruins winger Shawn Thornton joined Mut & Merloni on Monday afternoon as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon.
Thornton and his teammates soon will return to the ice and look to start another run to the Stanley Cup finals after losing to the Blackhawks in six games. This is the second short offseason for the Bruins in three years, following their Stanley Cup title in 2011.
“It’s different because we won last time. You get a little leeway when you win,” Thornton said. “I think back then we had 12 or 13 weeks. But we won, so let’s get ready. But when you lose, that taste is in your mouth and it’s like you’re rattled all summer and you want to prove a point. Everybody wants to be ready for Day 1.
“I think it’s tough, personally, mentally, to tell yourself that you played just as many games, just as long as the team that beat you, because it leaves such a sour taste in your mouth.”
Asked if would every be able to watch a replay of the heartbreaking, last-minute loss in Game 6, Thornton said, “No. Never. That one will sting for the rest of my life. I hope I win another one. And if I do, then I’ll be like, ‘Wow, I’ve got three rings; I should have had four.’ That’s how I look at it. I hate losing. That one stung.”
The Bruins had some turnover this offseason — including sending Tyler Seguin to the Stars for Louis Eriksson — but kept the core of their squad intact.
“The last four or five years we’ve had teams that can compete every year. I think management has done a really good job of keeping the nucleus together and bringing in pieces here and there to try and fit in the needs,” Thornton said. “Louis Eriksson supposedly — I haven’t played against him a ton because he’s on the West — but supposedly they say he’s one of the more underrated guys in the NHL, being in Dallas, not getting a lot of big-market notoriety. I’m excited to see this guy play.”
Thornton makes regular visits to patients at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute throughout the year to offer an emotional boost.
“It’s a feel-good moment,” he said. “We go over there for an hour, it’s an hour or two of our time. To see these kids and what they’re fighting through, their attitudes and how happy they are and they’re talking about how lucky they are and things are going well and all this stuff. Sometimes we complain because our [steak] strip on the private flight is medium-well. It puts a lot of things into perspective.
“Speaking for myself, I really enjoy it. But I know a lot of my teammates try and get over there as much as possible, too, because we really like it.”
For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.
|08.25.13 at 6:15 pm ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has been added to Team Canada’s Olympic management staff, something that became official Sunday as Olympic hopefuls (46 players) met in Calgary for a three-day orientation.
Chiarelli isn’t the only Bruins representation at the camp, as Claude Julien is an associate coach, while Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand are among the players in attendance.
|08.22.13 at 2:43 pm ET|
This season will be the first with the NHL’s realigned conferences and divisions, meaning the days of the Northeast Division are over and the Bruins will have some new rivals in the Atlantic Division. Over the coming days, WEEI.com will look at the Bruins’ divisional opponents, new and old.
We’ll start by looking at the only team in the Atlantic that’s coming over from the old Western Conference, which is the Red Wings. The Bruins will play Detroit four times this season, with two of their first five games of the season coming against the Red Wings.
Under the new format of the NHL, the top three teams from each division make the playoffs, with the two teams with the next-highest point totals getting the final two spots. Detroit shouldn’t worry about grabbing one of those two extra spots, as they figure to contend for one of the top two or three berths in the division.
WHAT THEY ARE
A perennial contender with a lot of skill on offense. They finished 20th in scoring in a shortened season that general managers throughout the league have said was impossible to properly assess, but they finished seventh in the league with 2.92 goals per game in 2011-12 and second with 3.13 goals per game in 2010-11. The additions of Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss should help them move away from last year’s relatively low offensive output and get back near the top of the league in the scoring department.
No team can truly recover from losing Nicklas Lidstrom, which the Wings did prior to last season, but Detroit still finished with 2.29 goals allowed per game in 2013, which was fifth-lowest in the league. They can thank steady defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who has played in every game the last two seasons, and former UMaine goaltender Jimmy Howard for that.
All in all, the Red Wings are a balanced team that shouldn’t expect its very lengthy playoff streak (see below) come to an end any time soon. They should challenge the likes of the Bruins and Canadiens for the top spot in the division in the coming years.
The Red Wings finished third in the Central Division in 2013. In clinching the seven seed, they made the playoffs for the 22nd consecutive season, a span that has seen four Stanley Cup championships for Detroit.
As for the Red Wings’ stay in the playoffs, one can’t help but wonder how it affected the Bruins’ bid for the Stanley Cup. After eliminating the second-seeded Ducks in the conference quarterfinals, Detroit took the eventual champion Blackhawks to the brink of elimination by taking a 3-1 series. The Blackhawks marched back to win the series, with Brent Seabrook notching the dagger in overtime of Game 7 to eliminate the Red Wings.
Before free agency started, the Red Wings gave Pavel Datsyuk a three-year extension. The prize of Detroit’s offseason was Alfredsson, who chose the Red Wings’ group of Swedish players (Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen and Kronwall, among others) over the Bruins’ perceived better shot at the Stanley Cup. The contract is for $5.5 million, but because he is over 35, the sides were able to structure a team-friendly deal (a la Jarome Iginla with the Bruins) with a $3.5 million cap hit and an additional $2 million for an easily attainable bonus (10 games played).
The Red Wings also brought in Weiss, the longtime Panthers forward, with a five-year, $24.5 million deal. Their biggest loss was forward Valtteri Filppula, who left Detroit in free agency for a big payday with the Lightning in the form of a five-year, $25 million deal.
• The Red Wings and Bruins have met 579 times, with the Red Wings holding the edge with 249 wins, 234 losses, 95 ties and one overtime loss.
The last time the teams met, Detroit beat the B’s in a shootout the day after Thanksgiving in 2011. The game snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Bruins. Datsyuk scored this goal.
• Speaking of Datsyuk, he’s super awesome at hockey. It will be a treat for hockey fans to see the three-time Selke winner in the division, with Patrice Bergeron also contending for the award as the league’s top defensive forward each year (he won it 2011-12).
During a playoff game in 2012, Pierre McGuire called David Krejci “Boston’s version of Pavel Datsyuk.” Krejci called Datsyuk the best player in the world, while Zdeno Chara thought highly enough of him to make him his first pick in the 2012 fantasy draft to determine All-Star Game teams.
• The Red Wings’ 22-season playoff streak is the fifth-longest in the history of the NHL. The longest such streak was by the Bruins, who reached the playoffs in 29 straight seasons from 1967 to 1996.
Detroit’s streak is the longest active one. The next-longest is that of the Sharks, who have made the playoffs in nine straight seasons. The B’s have been in the postseason for the last six seasons, which is tied for the fourth-longest active streak.
• The presence of the Red Wings in a division with the Bruins, Canadiens and Maple Leafs makes the Atlantic the most Original 6 heavy division with four such teams. The Rangers are in the Metropolitan Division, while the Blackhawks (Central) are now the only Original 6 team in the Western Conference.
|08.20.13 at 9:02 pm ET|
The Bruins announced Tuesday that they have renewed its affiliation with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. The Stingrays have been the Bruins’ ECHL affiliate since last season.
Previously, the Stingrays served as the Capitals’ ECHL affiliate from 2004-12.