Archive for August, 2013

Peter Chiarelli says hiring Claude Julien was his best move

Friday, August 30th, 2013
Claude Julien

Claude Julien

Speaking at the team’s press conference to announce his four-year extension, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said that the move he is most proud of in his seven years wasn’t a player acquisition, but the hiring of coach Claude Julien.

Julien has led the Bruins to the playoffs in each of his six seasons with the Bruins. In his previous two seasons he had been fired by the Canadiens (2005-06) and Devils (2006-07), but Chiarelli said he saw a capable coach with whom he could have a good working relationship.

“I’ve got to say the single biggest thing was hiring Claude,” Chiarelli said. “He came off of being fired twice and there were a lot of questions about him so I knew he would be receptive to things. So obviously I knew what he was like – receptive to things so he could evolve with the rest of us.”

Friday’s remark didn’t mark the first time Chiarelli used an opportunity with the media to sing Julien’s praises, saying after the team narrowly escaped the first round last season that he would never fire Julien.

“As long as I’m here, his job is safe,” Chiarelli said on Salk and Holley on May 15.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Peter Chiarelli explains changes made to scouting department

Friday, August 30th, 2013
Peter Chiarelli

Peter Chiarelli

Friday’s press conference to announce Peter Chiarelli‘s four-year extension with the Bruins was marked with praise from team president Cam Neely and alternate governor Charlie Jacobs, but Chiarelli addressed one change he made to his staff this offseason.

Chiarelli’s tenure with the Bruins has been very successful, with two Stanley Cup finals appearances and one Cup victory, but Chiarelli seemed to acknowledge the team’s lackluster record with drafting when he replaced director of amateur scooting Wayne Smith with Keith Gretzky.

The reason behind the move was pretty obvious: The Bruins haven’t really drafted well of late. From 2007 until today, Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton — both of whom were selected in the top 10 — are the only players selected in the first round that have since become NHL regulars.

Chiarelli has done well in trading his picks, as he’s moved picks to get the likes of Chris Kelly, Jaromir Jagr and, on a more forgettable note, Tomas Kaberle. Still, it’s clear that in order for the Bruins to remain competitive in the years beyond the primes of their current stars, they’ll need to improve their success rate in the draft. Chiarelli feels they’re positioned to do that.

“Keith has had some success in Phoenix in that position and we brought him on board,” Chiarelli said. “I wanted to broaden the scope of our amateur scouting and I felt that he was the best person to do that and that fits in to what I was saying – it’s obvious we want more young players to be ready to play. You’ll be seeing some in the next two or three years, there are some good ones that are coming.

“You’ve heard about the [Ryan] Spooners, the [Anthony] Camaras, the [Malcolm] Subbans. There are some players that are coming but that was the impetus behind that decision. I wanted to broaden the scope, broaden meaning beyond a certain region and that is part and parcel why we hired [P.J.] Axelsson. There are a lot of good players in Sweden and we wanted to broaden our scope there too.”

September will be an interesting month for the young players already in the system, as the likes of Jared Knight, Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith, Jordan Caron and Carter Camper, among others, will all compete for a vacant bottom-six spot.

“We have to get – you know, we’re going to see an influx of young players this year,” Chiarelli said. “They’re going to get a chance, not just the ones that we have seen last year but the other guys are going to get a chance. We’re going to have to make room and find players because to make the commitments that we did to our core, although the cap is going to go up, you have to have flexibility, you have to have the other players coming. So that scenario I would like to improve on.”

Bruins announce rookie camp roster

Friday, August 30th, 2013

The Bruins announced their roster for rookie camp, which is set to begin next Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena. It is as follows:

FORWARDS: Anthony Camara, Mitchell Dempsey, Campbell Elynuik, Alex Fallstrom, Justin Florek, Seth Griffith, Jayden Hart, Alexander Khokhlachev, Jared Knight, Matthew Lindblad, Wayne Simpson, Ryan Spooner, Maxime Villemaire

DEFENSEMEN: Mickael Beauregard, Chris Casto, Alex Cord, Tommy Cross, Jesse Lees, Steven Spinell, Zach Trotman

GOALTENDERS: Adam Morrison, Malcolm Subban

The notable exception here is Joe Morrow, a defenseman picked 23rd overall in the 2011 draft by the Penguins and was acquired in the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas.

Morrow, 20, figures to spend at least a year or two in the AHL before he figures to contend for a full-time job in Boston. Here’s what Peter Chiarelli said about him the day they acquired him:

“Still a young player, very strong skater, finding his way, but we have a lot of time for him and we think he can develop into a top four NHL defenseman with the right development.”

Peter Chiarelli’s best and worst moves as Bruins general manager

Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Peter Chiarelli is sticking around. (AP)

Peter Chiarelli is sticking around. (AP)

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.

BEST MOVES

(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.  (more…)

Bruins give Peter Chiarelli four-year extension

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

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.

Shawn Thornton wants to play ‘another year or two at least’ with Bruins after this season

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton

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.

Shawn Thornton on M&M: Loss to Blackhawks ‘will sting for the rest of my life’

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013
Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton

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.