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Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk announces he will return to BU for senior year

04.17.15 at 10:14 pm ET
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Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk announced that he will return to Boston University for his senior season at the team’s awards banquet Friday night. He had been mulling the possibility of signing with the Bruins and forgoing his senior year.

Grzelcyk, a 5-foot-10 defenseman from Charlestown whom the B’s drafted in the third round in 2012, served as BU’s captain this past season and will reprise the role next year. He finished fourth nationally among defensemen with 38 points (10 goals, 28 asssists) in 41 games and was named a First Team All-American.

As the leader of a defense corps that featured four freshmen, Grzelcyk helped guide BU to a Hockey East regular-season title, a Hockey East tournament title and a Frozen Four appearance. The Terriers’ season ended with a 4-3 loss to Providence in last Saturday’s national championship game.

Another interesting development at BU’s awards banquet was that Hobey Baker Award winner and future No. 2 overall pick Jack Eichel was named an alternate captain for next season.

Eichel is probably still more likely to sign with the team that drafts him than return to BU for his sophomore year, but him getting an ‘A’ is still notable. Eichel has said that he hasn’t decided anything as far as going pro vs. returning to BU, and people close to BU have suggested that there is more of a chance of him returning than people might assume.

Why Bruins should extend Dougie Hamilton for as long as they can

04.17.15 at 1:41 pm ET
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On Friday the Stars announced a seven-year extension with an annual cap hit of $4.25 million for John Klingberg, a promising defenseman coming off his entry-level deal. This offseason the Bruins ideally would use Klingberg’€™s contract as a template for Dougie Hamilton’€™s next deal. Hamilton’€™s camp likely will have other comps in mind.

One of those comps wears No. 76 for the Canadiens. You may have heard of him.

When it comes to Hamilton’€™s worth at the end of his entry-level deal, P.K. Subban is a very realistic comparable. Just look at their numbers through each of their first contracts:

SubbanHamilton2

In terms of points per game, Hamilton also is in some pricey company:

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 1.05.23 PM

Hamilton will become a restricted free agent on July 1. The Bruins probably want to give him a long-term deal, but if he takes a shorter deal and gets to sign his third contract soon, he could potentially make a lot more money.

That’€™s what happened with Subban. The Canadiens were actually unwilling to give him the long-term deal he wanted after his entry-level deal expired, so he took a two-year deal worth just $2.875 million per. Subban shoved that in Marc Bergevin’€™s face by winning the Norris in the first year of that deal and later cashing in with an eight-year deal with an annual cap hit of $9 million.

The Bruins should avoid that scenario at all costs. Hamilton already is the Bruins’€™ second-best defenseman and easily is worth $5 million a year, and probably more.

The Bruins should give Hamilton a number that high for as long as he’€™ll take. Seven years at $5 million-plus per would buy out three years of unrestricted free agency, delaying perhaps Hamilton’€™s biggest payday until he is 29.

Because of that, Hamilton’€™s camp will demand more per year the longer the deal goes. A shorter deal will mean a smaller cap hit, as Hamilton will easily make up that money in free agency sooner if he gets there.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dougie Hamilton, Drew Doughty, P.K. Subban,

Cam Neely admits he wants a voice but adds, ‘I don’t want to be a general manager’

04.16.15 at 7:52 am ET
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There was some speculation in the immediate aftermath of Peter Chiarelli’s firing Wednesday that Cam Neely might assume the role and add the general manager’s title onto his existing role of team president.

While team CEO Charlie Jacobs admitted that hockey operations will, for now, report directly to Neely, the team president said he wants no part of the gig long term.

“I’€™m not a micromanager and I don’€™t want to be a general manager,” Neely announced. “I want to have a vision, I want to understand what the vision of a general manager is going to be for the hockey club, obviously, as we move forward. I felt that I was able to have conversations and express my opinions. I felt that I was able to do that the last four or five years’€”six years. But as far as’€”I’€™m not a micromanager and I don’€™t intend to be.”

Neely did offer a critique of where he thinks the team might have gone astray over the last four seasons since winning the Cup in 2011, especially as it relates to drafting new talent.

“We have to look at the organization as a whole obviously and today’€™s day and age with the game and the cap and a team that is fortunate enough to spend to the cap,” Neely said. “As you have success and those players get better and you have to pay them more, you need those entry-level players to come in and be able to have an impact. It’€™s expensive to always get ready made players.

“It’€™s a nice luxury to be able to have but when you don’€™t have the cap space to be able to do that, you’€™ve got to find entry-level players. I think there was a period of time there where’€”I don’€™t think I’€™m saying anything that hasn’€™t been chronicled’€”we missed on three or four years on some drafts that I think right now we’€™re kind of paying the price for. That’€™s not the sole reason but that’€™s an area where I think we can improve.”

Neely was asked if he had input or final authorization on moves that might have led the Bruins away from a tougher on-ice image that he has preferred ever since his playing days.

“Like I said I’€™m not going to micromanage a GM. I want him to do his job,” Neely said. “I certainly want to have conversations about why and what the thought process is to make particular deals and trades and how that is going to look for the franchise, not just when it happens but also moving forward. The other thing to your second question, I think where we’€™ve had success is our four lines play hard. That’€™s doesn’€™t mean you can’€™t have skill and play hard. It’€™s something where ‘€˜is it easy to find?’€™ No, but I think I’€™d like to see us get back to playing hard and where the team plays for each other. I think we lost that a little bit.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Cam Neely,

Charlie Jacobs makes it clear: Bruins’ goal is ‘to play and compete for the Stanley Cup’

04.16.15 at 7:35 am ET
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Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs took the occasion Wednesday, at the press conference to confirm the firing of general manager Peter Chiarelli, that simply making the playoffs wasn’t necessarily enough to save the GM’s job.

In January, Jacobs told reporters, after meeting with the team, that he would consider the season a failure if they didn’t reach the playoffs and that the team was badly underachieving.

This led to the presumption that if the Bruins made the playoffs and got hot at the right time, Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien would be safe. Jacobs hinted Wednesday that wasn’t necessarily the case.

“I feel they were accurate, and that in January, my frustration of where the team was — I think we were in ninth or 10th place in the conference at the moment, on that day in January –€” and I said that for us not to make the playoffs would have been a failure. So here we are, out. And I want to clarify, by the way, my comment about the playoffs: The expectation is for us not only to get into the playoffs, but to play and compete for the Stanley Cup, not just to get in. I feel that may be lost a little bit in the messaging.”

It was appropriate that on tax day Jacobs said the team was doing an internal audit of on-ice performance and off-ice planning and preparation in the front office, and that this audit had been going on all season.

“But I didn’€™t necessarily think, at the end of the season, OK, let’€™s sort of wash our hands of X, Y or Z associate. That wasn’€™t it. It was, again, going back and sort of doing an audit of what had transpired throughout the year, where we were in terms of an organization and in terms of our depth, whether it be from our scouting department, our minor league system, where we are with our senior club, of course, and then sort of determining where, perhaps, we need to improve. So again, this was not an easy decision.”

As it turned out, Jacobs and team president Cam Neely not only fired Chiarelli but also relieved three scouts of their jobs, including amateur scouts Mike Chiarelli (brother of Peter) and Denis Leblanc, and European Head Scout Jukka Holtari.

“I have a great deal of respect for Peter and what he accomplished here, especially bringing back [the Stanley Cup] I can’€™t thank him enough for 2011 and the ride that that was,” Jacobs said. “But we felt it was time to move on, and this was the move.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Charlie Jacobs, Peter Chiarelli,

Cam Neely says next general manager will decide Claude Julien’s fate

04.15.15 at 4:57 pm ET
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While Peter Chiarelli’s fate is known, Claude Julien‘s isn’t.

Cam Neely and Charlie Jacobs said in Wednesday’s press conference that a decision has still not been made on whether Julien will be kept or fired. Neely made it clear that just because Julien hasn’t been fired yet, it doesn’t mean he won’t be.

“It hasn’€™t fully been made,’€ Neely said of the decision. “We met with Claude this morning, Charlie and I. We told him that we really believe that once we go through the exhaustive search to find the next general manager, we will leave it up to that GM to decide what he wants to do on our coaching staff. Claude certainly understood that, but that’€™s where we left it.”

If the Bruins wait to fire Julien, the coach could miss out on other jobs. Julien signed a multi-year extension with the Bruins prior to this season and, if fired, would be paid it until he got a new job.

As such, there would be no incentive for Julien to quit while in limbo.

“We told him the situation and we asked him, and he said, ‘€˜I signed a contract to coach here and I want to coach here,’€™ so he made that clear when he left,” Neely said. “We had planned to meet with him in the next couple days to sit down about the season and talk to him about this past season. That’€™s next on our agenda with Claude.”

Asked whether the Bruins would consider “trading” Julien for draft picks, Neely said the team had yet to consider it.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Cam Neely, Claude Julien,

Bruins don’t convey preference for internal vs. external hire for GM

04.15.15 at 3:48 pm ET
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The Bruins do not have a preference on whether to fill their vacant general manager spot with an internal or external candidate. Cam Neely and Charlie Jacobs said in a press conference Wednesday that hockey operations will report to Neely in the meantime.

“We’€™re going to take our time and go through the process and make sure we make a decision is best for the organization,” Neely said.

Assistant general manager Don Sweeney would figure to be the top internal candidate for the job. Asked whether promoting from within would bring about enough change after firing Peter Chiarelli, both were noncommittal.

“It’€™s really about what we feel is going to be best for organization,” Neely said.

Added Jacobs: “Find the best candidate. Period.”

Bruins fire general manager Peter Chiarelli, three scouts

04.15.15 at 10:56 am ET
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The Bruins announced Wednesday morning that they have fired general manager Peter Chiarelli.

The firing comes after the team missed the playoffs for the first time in eight years. The only other season under Chiarelli that the B’s failed to qualify for the postseason was 2006-07, his first with the club.

“We are grateful for Peter’s service to the Bruins organization over the last nine seasons,” Bruins president Cam Neely said in a press release. “His efforts undoubtedly helped the team achieve great success during his tenure and he helped restore the proud tradition of Boston Bruins hockey. We ultimately feel that this change is necessary in order to ensure sustainable success for the club both in the short term and the long term. Our search for a new General Manager will begin immediately.”

The B’s also fired amateur scouts Mike Chiarelli (Peter Chiarelli’s brother), Denis Leblanc and European head scout Jukka Holtari.

No interim general manager has been named, though assistant general manager Don Sweeney is the most obvious internal candidate.

“Peter Chiarelli has done a tremendous job for the Boston Bruins over the last nine seasons,” Jeremy Jacobs said in a statement released later in the day. “During that time I have come to know, and like him, both professionally and personally. This decision was not an easy one for Cam and Charlie but, ultimately, the right one for this organization. They have my full support in this decision. I know Peter will move on and continue to do great things in the league and I would give him my highest recommendation.”

The highlight of Chiarelli’s tenure came in June of 2011, when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in his fifth season with the team. The B’s were back in the Cup Final two years later, falling to the Blackhawks in six games.

While drafting was Chiarelli’s most notable shortcoming, his dealings with veteran players were a reason the Bruins became an Eastern Conference powerhouse. Chiarelli’s move from Ottawa to Boston inspired top free agent Zdeno Chara to do the same, while the re-signings of Chara and Patrice Bergeron prior to the 2010-11 season locked up the team’s two best players right before they led the team to the Cup.

Chiarelli was also bold with his roster management. His trade of Tyler Seguin to the Stars in the summer of 2013 did not yield a proper return for the caliber of scorer the Bruins dealt, while the Bruins’ signing of Jarome Iginla left them with millions of dead money against the salary cap this season. The cap crunch forced Boston to shed salary going into this season, with Chiarelli opting to move Johnny Boychuk because the free-agent-to-be would yield the best return of players not expected to stay in Boston long-term.

Chiarelli still has multiple years remaining on his contract. He will continue to be paid by the Bruins until he takes a job with another club.

Read More: Peter Chiarelli,
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