Archive for June, 2009

Chiarelli agrees to four-year pact that will take B’s through 2013-14

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

The Bruins and GM Peter Chiarelli formally discussed a four-year contract extension that will kick into gear following the fourth and final year of his original contract during the 2009-10 season. Chiarelli and Principal for Delaware North and the Bruins Charlie Jacobs were on hand to answer questions at the TD Banknorth Garden on Tuesday afternoon, and the B’s GM indicated that discussions will begin with Claude Julien on a contract extension in the ensuing weeks.

Jacobs intimated Julien and members of the coaching staff were running under the same contract length as their GM, which meant they are set to enter the final year of their contracts. Don’t expect Boston’s Jack Adams award candidate to wait very long for his own contract extension now that Chiarelli has been taken care of.

Jacobs said that the B’s ownership had already decided to extend Chiarelli and avoid any “lame duck” possibilities prior to the playoff run, and it was only a matter of time before the father and son reworked the contract agreement with their top executive.

“It seems like it was just yesterday that we were up on the dais being the next GM. It’s happened so fast. He has grown and there’s no question about it,” said Charlie Jacobs. “If you think about the guy that was up there three years and the GM that we just heard, there is a lot of difference. It’s reflected in the team’s performance, it’s reflected in his decisions and the coaching staff and management staff he’s assembled over the last 36 months, which is really strong.

“You’ve got to judge the body of work. We’ve had highs and lows, but we’ve had many more highs. This wasn’t something that we talked about whether we wanted to do it or not, (extending Chiarelli)  is something that we felt like we had to do.”

For his part, the 44-year-old Bruins general manager is midway through a stunning hockey success story in Boston that’s taken place over the last three years — and Chiarelli is excited to see what lies ahead for a hockey club that excelled during the regular season before falling in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Chiarelli clearly has some challenges to keep his present team intact while avoiding the pitfalls of a shrinking salary cap, and it all starts with restricted free agents Phil Kessel and Matt Hunwick along with valued free agents like P.J. Axelsson and Mark Recchi. Kessel is the big ticket free agent still under Boston’s control, and the B’s front office has until July 1 to negotiate with him. Reports have indicated Chiarelli and Kessel’s agent, Wade Arnott, are far apart in contract negotiations, but the B’s GM has been tight-lipped against the contract talks. He wouldn’t comment on any progress — or lack thereof — with his remaining restricted free agents in Kessel, Matt Hunwick and Byron Bitz heading up to the July 1 deadline — a date when RFAs can begin fielding offer sheets from other NHL teams.

“This gives the management group the latitude to do things and to continue on with their vision or plan,” said Chiarelli. “What we’ve tried to do since I’ve been here is try to instill certain attitudes and philosophies among the players, the employees, the staff and the coaches. This (contract) allows us to do that.

“We’re entering into a new level of expectation that’s exciting and — let’s be honest — more demanding. It’s more demanding, but you have to like a challenge. What I saw in the playoffs is guys that were sacrificing their bodies on every shift, and we’re not at that point yet. It makes it more clear where we have to be, and we’re getting there. I saw that at various stages this year, but it’s certainly more clear now when you see every player on every shift (in the Stanley Cup Finals) sacrificing their body blocking a shot or taking a check.”

Several times over the last few weeks, B’s owner Jeremy Jacobs made the observation that he hadn’t hired Chiarelli as GM simply for a four-year term, but instead viewed the Bruins exec as the kind of personality that should remain in the organization for the “rest of his professional life.” Chiarelli certainly wasn’t backing away from those kinds of expectations, but also knows — in this day and age — that things can change very fast in an NHL front office.

“I love the city and it’s a great place to bring up a family, and that’s important to me,” said Chiarelli, who was named Hockey Executive of the Year by The Sporting News. “The organization is something that I want to be a part of. I don’t want to be jumping around. Hockey is a tough sport.

“You’ve seen it with coaches and players, and now I think you’ll probably see it among GMs that people will be jumping around. That’s something I don’t want to do. Nothing is guaranteed in life, but I’m very happy to be here and I want to be here for a long time.”

Chiarelli signs multiyear contract extension with Bruins

Monday, June 15th, 2009

In a move that was expected to transpire at some point before the NHL draft at the end of June, the Bruins announced Monday afternoon that GM Peter Chiarelli has signed a multiyear contract extension with the Black and Gold. Chiarelli was entering into the fourth and final year of a deal that he signed when he took the B’s reigns back in May 2006. The B’s executive had been negotiating with Jeremy and Charlie Jacobs over the course of the last few months, and it was fully expected that Chiarelli would remain with Boston for next year and beyond.

Chiarelli and Charlie Jacobs will hold a press conference in Legends at the TD Banknorth Garden at noon on Tuesday, and it’s also expected that Chiarelli will discuss his own situation as well as provide updates on the upcoming NHL draft and current contract negotiations with restricted free agents like Phil Kessel and Matt Hunwick.

The B’s GM deserved plaudits — and a new pact — for steadily steering the organization back from oblivion over the three years after taking hold of a beleaguered franchise with an expansion team-level roster. Chiarelli and the B’s staff have stocked an NHL roster full of young, improving players — with some as holdovers from Boston’s prior front office regime – and built the foundation around a pair of big-ticket free agents in Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard.

Young skilled players like Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Blake Wheeler and Milan Lucic have all made the jump to the NHL level during Chiarelli’s tenure, and the B’s GM locked down All-Star goaltender Tim Thomas to a four-year deal earlier this spring. Goaltender Tuukka Rask and center Zach Hamill represent another wave of talented youngsters that have performed well at Providence, and stand ready to support the Boston hockey club in the near future.

Chiarelli was named the NHL’s Executive of the Year by the Sporting News for the 2008-09 season, and watched his hockey team improve by 22 points last season en route to capturing the Eastern Conference title. The B’s season ended in a Game 7 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the Stanley Cup semifinals, but the organization is clearly on the right track.

Chiarelli has made missteps — signing Dave Lewis as his first coach and trading away prospect Kris Versteeg rank as the two biggest gaffes during his three seasons in charge of hockey operations. But the GM earned a contract extension for his overwhelmingly impressive body of work in Boston.

The GM’s biggest mandate was to come in and make the Bruins a tough, “hard to play against” unit with equal parts grit and skill, and he’s succeeded in molding a group of players into that classic image of a successful hockey club. Chiarelli’s work remains incomplete as he faces an important summer of negotiations with free agents — and potential trade talks if those contract discussions don’t go as well as expected – amid a shrinking salary cap. With a completed contract extension in hand, Chiarelli is now free to focus on the other tasks calling for his attention.

It’s also expected that Chiarelli will now turn toward a contract extension for head coach Claude Julien and members of his coaching staff — who are all expected to return for the 2009-10 season – after the Jack Adams Award finalist posted 94 wins over the last two seasons behind the Boston bench.

Before joining the B’s in 2006, Chiarelli was under the employ of his hometown Ottawa Senators for seven seasons, five as their director of legal relations and two as assistant GM. Chiarelli played four seasons of college hockey at Harvard, where he served as the team’€™s captain. He had 21 goals and 28 assists for 49 points in 109 collegiate games before earning his degree in economics in 1987.

The elder Jacobs gave plenty of evidence that an agreement was  looming — perhaps to be announced after the Stanley Cup Finals were over — when he spoke with WEEI’s “Dale & Holley” last week.

‘€œI made this observation a few weeks ago. I didn’€™t hire Peter for four years. I hired him for his career. Peter wants to stay a Bruin. He sees this as a long range career relationship and I see the same. It’€™s evolving,’€ said Jeremy Jacobs. ‘€œI kind of see him in a long term executive relationship and I think he sees himself in the same spot.”

Jacobs: Chiarelli contract extension is “going to happen in next few weeks”

Friday, June 12th, 2009

As part of the Owners Series on the Dale and Holley Show Friday afternoon, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs said that a contract extension with Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli should be finalized within the next few weeks. The B’s GM is entering the final year of a four-year deal that he signed with the team in 2006.

Chiarelli has overseen a stunning rise from the basement to the top of the Eastern Conference standings over the last three seasons, and both sides have been working toward a deal for the last four months.

“I made this observation a few weeks ago. I didn’t hire Peter for four years. I hired him for his career. Peter wants to stay a Bruin. He sees this as a long range career relationship and I see the same. It’s evolving,” said Jacobs. “It’s going to happen in the next few weeks, I imagine, and there will be an announcement, probably. I kind of see him in a long term executive relationship and I think he sees himself in the same spot.

“I believe he’ll be there for the long haul and sees himself there. It’s a repositioning every so many years as to how much you’re going to make, and what the relationship is going to be like from an economics standpoint.”

Agent: Kessel’s first priority is to get a deal done with Boston

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Reports have been swirling over the last few days that Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli and the agent for 21-year-old B’s sniper Phil Kessel are pretty far apart in negotiations, and that a trade of Kessel this summer could be a certainty if that contractual chasm isn’t bridged.

Kessel’s agent Wade Arnott checked in with the Big Bad Blog on Tuesday afternoon, refuted the notion that the sides are at an impasse, and in fact stated that he and Chiarelli have just recently opened up contract discussions. The negotiations began in earnest this week following Kessel’s surgery to repair a torn labrum and torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder.

Kessel, a restricted free agent able to receive offer sheets from other teams if he’s still unsigned on July 1, has made it clear to Arnott that he wants to remain with the team that drafted him fifth overall in the first round back in the 2006 draft.

“We’re in the early, early stages,” said Arnott of the negotiations. “We’re just beginning to chat now. Everything in our industry is still deadline-oriented and Phil is a restricted free agent, so it doesn’t surprise me (that discussions have only just begun). In addition to that, the priority was the surgery on his shoulder. Now that he’s recovering nicely from that I guess Peter has decided that now is the time to turn his attention to Phil.” 

The B’s signed fellow RFA David Krejci to a three-year, $11.25 million contract last week that gives the Black and Gold an affordable burgeoning superstar over the next three seasons, but it’s expected that Kessel is going to cost the Bruins more money than his 23-year-old teammate. Kessel scored a combined 30 goals in his first two NHL seasons while also battling through testicular cancer as a rookie, but the 6-foot, 189-pounder began to blossom this season as a 21-year-old, baby-faced sniper.

Kessel led the Bruins with 36 goals scored despite missing 12 games with a bout of mononucleosis and the shoulder injury that eventually required offseason surgery, and has 15 career points — including nine goals — in 15 playoff games over the last two seasons. The $3.75 million per year mark signed by Krejci is sure to be the jumping off point for Boston in negotiations with Kessel, but there are other contracts that Kessel’s representation is surely looking at as comparable to the budding superstar.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Jeff Carter signed a three-year, $15 million contract prior to last season after scoring 66 goals over his first three NHL seasons (23, 14, and 29 respectively) and then exploded for46 goals as a 24-year-old this season. Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal inked a four-year, $16 million contract extension that begins next season after the 20-year-old scored 63 goals over his first three seasons for the Pens. Washington Capitals Alexander Semin signed a two-year, $9.2 million in Oct. 2007 as a 23-year-old while in the midst of scoring 74 goals in his first three NHL seasons. 

Before signing his current deal that will begin paying him $8.25 million per year beginning next season, a then-21-year-old Eric Staal signed a three-year, $13.5 million pact as his second contract in the NHL after scoring 86 goals in his first three seasons — and winning a Stanley Cup as a second-year player with the Canes. On the other end of the spectrum, Zach Parise signed a four-year, $12.5 million cap-friendly extension with the New Jersey Devils in Aug. 2007 after totalling 45 goals in his first two NHL seasons.

With all of those deals utilized as market-setters from the recent past, it’s likely that Kessel’s representation is looking for something in between the younger Staal’s $4 million per year deal and Carter’s $5 million per-annum pact with the Flyers. If the Bruins and Kessel aren’t able to come to an contract agreement by July 1, the young B’s forward can begin fielding offer sheets from other teams around in the NHL — an interesting scenario in a world where the NHL salary cap is shrinking.

Despite the depressed world economy, it’s also a world where 36-goals scorers at 21 years old don’t exactly grow on trees and Kessel’s world class skating speed and deadly snap shot would attract many suitors.

Arnott indicated that both he and Kessel weren’t looking at the July 1 free agency period with any significance at this point. The talented Bruins forward has indicated to his representation that he wants to exhaust every opportunity with Boston before turning to other options.

“My instructions from Phil are that my first priority is to try and get a deal done with Boston,” said Arnott, who also indicated that Kessel’s recovery from shoulder surgery is going well, but that the young winger is likely to miss a month next season. “His interests lie in remaining in Boston, and we’re going to see if we can get that done first.”

Chiarelli recently indicated that he views Kessel an important part of the Bruins hockey club, but that he wouldn’t feel “rushed” or “hurried” by a July 1 date that allows the speedy young winger to begin courting offers from other teams. The danger is that an opposing team will see an opportunity to strike the Bruins with a blow by inking Kessel to an expensive offer sheet — as the Edmonton Oilers did to the tune of seven years and $50 million with Buffalo Sabres RFA Tomas Vanek prior to the 2007-08 season. The salary cap-strapped B’s would be forced to match the offer — and begin trading off other assets in a position of desperation – or watch Kessel sign with somebody else and potentially blossom into a 40-50 goal scorer.

Looking at past hockey history, Arnott hasn’t shown much hesitation in steering clients toward the offer sheet route, if given the option, and signed RFA David Backes to a three-year, $7.5 million offer sheet with the Vancouver Canucks on July 1 last summer. The Blues matched the offer sheet to retain their own free agent, and Backes scored 31 goals for St. Louis during their march to the playoffs last season.

Chiarelli has already said that he’s intent on matching any offer sheets tendered to Kessel if things get to the free agency period, but it’ll be shocking if it’s allowed to get to that point given Boston’s salary cap situation and the surefire interest around the league in a budding 21-year-old goal scorer.

‘€œEvery negotiation is different and every person’€™s family has different needs,’€ said Chiarelli. ‘€œWe’€™ll see how the rest of the negotiations unfold. (Kessel and Krejci) are both very valued members of our team. (Getting all three signed by July 1) isn’€™t insignificant, but it’€™s just one of the factors involved here.

‘€œIt’€™s something where you have to gauge the negotiations as they are, and if someone wants to lead the negotiations until July 1 then we’€™re prepared to do that. We’€™re going to match (any offer sheets). It’€™s one of the factors. There are other tools that we have as a team. We can elect arbitration on certain players. I don’€™t want to be rushed or hurried by the July 1 (deadline). I recognize that there’€™s a threat of offer sheets. While there may be some I’€™m prepared to match in our cases, we’€™re prepared beyond matching to do the maneuvers that we have to do.’€

Summer months bring several Bruins-related events

Monday, June 8th, 2009

Some fun, non salary-cap, Black and Gold-related stuff coming up with ‘The Tradition’ at the TD Banknorth Garden on June 24 honoring Jack Parker, Jerry York, Ken Hodge, Curt Schilling, Troy Brown, Sam Jones and Nancy Kerrigan among others, and WEEI’s own Dale Arnold and Michael Holley co-hosting the event. There’ll be more on ”The Tradition’ at this blog in the coming days, but the summer months also usher in a full schedule for the Boston Bruins Foundation.

Here’s the first of those philanthropic events, a July 22 Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise with many B’s alums in attendence to help raise money for the Bruins’ Pan-Mass Challenge Bike Team’s efforts. More on that later, but here’s the B’s release on an excellent event:

The Boston Bruins Foundation and Bay State Cruise Lines have partnered to host the “Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise” on Wednesday, July 22, to help raise money for the 2009 Boston Bruins Foundation Pan-Massachusetts Challenge Bike Team. Bruins fans will set sail aboard the M/V Provincetown II cruise ship from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. departing from the World Trade Center Pier (200 Seaport Boulevard, Boston, MA 02110).

While onboard, Bruins fans will be able to experience Boston and its beauty while enjoying dancing and the fun-filled music of New England performer Jim Plunkett.  The cruise will also provide fans with the opportunity to interact with Bruins alumni including the Director of Development of the Boston Bruins Foundation Bob Sweeney, Rick Middleton, Shawn McEachern, Lyndon Byers and Gary Doak.

The Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise will be a fun-filled evening providing Bruins fans the chance to head home with one-of-a-kind sports memorabilia, raffle and silent auction items.  Tickets to the event go on sale on Monday, June 8, 2009 and can be purchased at www.bostonbruins.com. Tickets will cost $25 for the general public and $20 for season ticket holders. The event is 21+ and valid identification will be needed at the door.

All of the proceeds from the Boston Bruins Foundation “Boston Harbor Sunset Cruise” will benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation Bike team riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge this August. The 2009 Boston Bruins Foundation team will follow the two-day, 190-mile route runs from Sturbridge to Provincetown. The Boston Bruins Foundation has participated in the Pan-Mass Challenge for the past four years and raised over $450,000.

About the Boston Bruins Foundation
The Boston Bruins Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation whose mission is to assist charitable organizations that demonstrate a strong commitment to enhancing the quality of life for children throughout New England.

Since its inception in July 2003 by the Jacobs Family, it has raised more than $4 million dollars through a series of fundraising events. The Foundation, which provides grants to organizations that meet the standards of its mission, concentrates on athletics, academics, health, and community outreach programs that assist in helping enrich the lives of children throughout New England.

David Krejci undergoes succesful hip surgery in NYC

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

The Boston Bruins announced that B’s center David Krejci underwent successful surgery on his hip to remove an impingement that had bothered Krejci for the balance of the season. The surgery was performed by Dr. Bryan Kelly, the same surgeon that performed hip surgery for Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Krejci is expected to miss 4-6 months with the injury, which could cut into as a much as month of the NHL season in 2009-10. Krejci is expected to remain in Boston for most of the summer as he recovers from the surgery and works to rehab the injury.

Krejci established career highs in goals, assists and points this past season with 22-51=73 totals. His 73 points ranked second on the team to Marc Savard and he was one of three Bruins who played all 82 regular season games and 11 postseason games, along with Savard and Mark Stuart.

 His 51 assists ranked also second on the team and he led the entire NHL with a plus/minus rating of +37.  In 2009, Krejci also received the Bruins Seventh Player Award, given to the player who performs above and beyond expectations.

He appeared in all 11 postseason contests for the Bruins and contributed two goals and six assists.

Krejci and Chiarelli discuss the center’s three-year deal

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

One day after the Bruins released information about resigning 23-year-old center David Krejci to a three-year deal, the player — on the eve of his first major surgery as a professional athlete – and General Manager Peter Chiarelli held an afternoon conference call to discuss the pact.

The Bruins GM knew that he had something good in the offensively gifted pivot when he sent him down to Providence during the 2007-08 season to work on some specific things – after making the big club out of camp — and saw him improve into a better two-way asset for the NHL team.

There was little sulking or complaining from Krejci, and he instead kept working at the things that served as his ticket to the NHL. Krejci’s hard work paid off this winter with a 73-point season, an NHL-best +36 and now a guaranteed $11.25 million contract that will take care of the center and his family forever. The three-year deal also leaves the door open for an even bigger pay day at 26 years old should he continue to refine his elite-level hockey skills and make the jump to superstar.

“The contract was done with great pleasure. During my time here in Boston — and even before that when I saw him play in Gatineau — I saw a very skilled player,” said Chiarelli. “What impressed me the most about him was that he was always willing to work on the areas of his game, and he continues to work on the areas of his game and feels like he could always be a better player.

“He had a breakout year statistically, but also in other areas of the ice. David will be the first tell you that he still feels he can get better and take his game to another level. We’re very happy to have him under contract. He’s a very good person, and I’m very impressed with the way he’s improved and his very professional work ethic.”

The Czech Republic native was understandably excited to get the deal done, and had the enthusiasm you would expect upon learning that you’re a multi-millionaire at 23 years-old.

“It was a great year for me. I had so much fun with the guys,” said Krejci. “So many good people with me during the season, and I’m so happy to be a Bruin for the next few years. I just wanted to thank the organization and Peter for getting a deal done.

“I just turned 23 and I believe the best age of hockey is close to 30. I believe as I get older I’ll be getting better in very area of my game: shot, skating, getting stronger. Every year I’m getting bigger, stronger and faster and becoming a better player.”

–Bruins center David Krejci confirmed that he will undergo surgery on his bothersome right hip Thursday, and will then spend the next 4-6 months recovering from the labrum surgery. Krejci signed a three-year, $11.25 million contract with the Black and Gold on Tuesday afternoon, and is hopeful that he won’t miss too much time at the beginning of next year’s NHL season. Six months would obviously put him out into the beginning of December — a significant chunk of the Bruins schedule for next season.

“The surgery is (Thursday). The recovery time is 4-6 months, so it could happen that I’ll be ready for the first game, or I could miss the first month,” said Krejci.

–Chiarelli was hesitant to color in many details about the negotiations with Krejci’s fellow RFAs (Phil Kessel, Matt Hunwick, Byron Bitz) that still remained unsigned, and said that the organization wasn’t hell-bent on getting things done before a July 1 deadline when RFAs can begin collecting offer sheets from other teams. Chiarelli continues to stand ready to match an offer sheet should an important member of the team get a potential offer sheet from another team.

“Every negotiation is different and every person’s family has different needs,” said Chiarelli. “We’ll see how the rest of the negotiations unfold. (Kessel and Krejci) are both very valued members of our team. (Getting all three signed by July 1) isn’t insignificant, but it’s just one of the factors involved here.

“It’s something where you have to gauge the negotiations as they are, and if someone wants to lead the negotations until July 1 then we’re prepared to do that. We’re going to match (any offer sheets). It’s one of the factors. There are other tools that we have as a team. We can elect arbitration on certain players. I don’t want to be rushed or hurried by the July 1 (deadline). I recognize that there’s a threat of offer sheets. While there may be some I’m prepared to match in our cases, we’re prepared beyond matching to do the maneuvers that we have to do.”

When asked about calls from club interested in trading for Krejci or Kessel, Chiarelli had this to say:

“I’ve made it clear over time as to how I value those players, so the frequency of calls isn’t that high. (Other GMs) are aware of how highly I value (Krejci and Kessel).”

–Phil Kessel is starting his rehab from shoulder surgery on Friday, and Chiarelli said he talked with him on the phone about some amatuer players that he’s played against in anticipation of the NHL draft at the end of the month in Montreal. Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference is also still “on the fence” about surgery for his groin and hernia, and Chiarelli is expecting an update in the next couple of days.