|Charlie Jacobs says David Backes is Bruins’ third-line center||08.30.16 at 1:16 pm ET|
The Bruins’ signing of David Backes was met with multiple questions, with “Why?” being the most popular. After all, signing Backes meant giving the money they could have given to Loui Eriksson to an older player who isn’t expected to age as well.
The second question was, “What position is he going to play?” A longtime center in St. Louis, the 32-year-old Backes played right wing for the Blues in the postseason and would be a reliable presence on Boston’s top line with center Patrice Bergeron and left wing Brad Marchand. Both the Bruins and Backes have preached flexibility, leaving it unknown what Boston’s plans are for their $30 million man.
On Tuesday, the CEO may have spilled the beans. Participating in the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund radio telethon, Charlie Jacobs used the Bruins’ depth at center — naming Backes and not incumbent third-line pivot Ryan Spooner — as a primary reason as to why he feels the Bruins will be improved this season.
“We’ve got Bergeron, [David] Krejci and Backes as our first three centers. Think about that,” Jacobs said. “I don’t know if there’s a team in the Eastern Conference that is [as] three-deep at center.”
Furthermore, Jacobs said that Backes’ presence will allow the Bruins, who finished fifth in goals scored last season thanks in part to Eriksson’s 30, to boast one of the best offenses in the league.
“This may be a stretch, but think about what Pittsburgh had down the middle, and they supplemented it with just about a rookie on just about every line with the exception of the HBK line and went on to win the Cup last year,” Jacobs said.
A source told WEEI.com Tuesday that the Bruins have not told Spooner that he’ll be playing wing in the coming season. Spooner is entering the final season of a two-year deal with a $950,000 cap hit and will be a restricted free agent after the season.
If Backes and Spooner are to play on the same line, it’s possible that the Bruins could resurrect the split of center responsibilities they did in recent seasons with Chris Kelly and Carl Soderberg (and, briefly, Kelly and Spooner). In such a scenario, the more defensively savvy player (in this case Backes) would support down low in the defensive zone, while the more offensive player (Spooner) would run things in the offensive zone.
|Charlie Jacobs makes it clear: Bruins’ goal is ‘to play and compete for the Stanley Cup’||04.16.15 at 7:35 am ET|
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.”
|Charlie Jacobs fires warning shot across Bruins organization||01.06.15 at 1:04 pm ET|
Charlie Jacobs held a press conference Tuesday to announce that he has been named CEO of Delaware North’s Boston Holdings, which runs the Bruins, TD Garden and NESN. Suspicions of the press conference’s timing were confirmed when Jacobs used the opportunity to fire warning shots across the Bruins organization.
Jacobs said that the entire Bruins organization is under evaluation, something he repeatedly referred to as a “fluid process.” He noted that he had met with both team president Cam Neely and general manager Peter Chiarelli to discuss the team’s status within the last 24 hours.
Asked whether players, coaches or management should be worried about their jobs, Jacobs repeated, “It’s a fluid process.”
At 19-15-6, the Bruins currently sit ninth in the Eastern Conference. Jacobs said missing the playoffs would be an “incredible failure.”
“When you think about what has been put into this team, in terms of … all of the scouting, all of the drafting, all of the money spent on player personnel, for us to be a team that’s out of the playoffs is absolutely unacceptable,” Jacobs said. “Everybody in the executive office is fully aware of how I feel and they feel the same way, which brings us to this evaluation process, and it’s fluid. I can’t say at any moment that we have a final decision other than to say it would be an utter disappointment and a failure.’
Claude Julien batted down a question Monday about whether players should fear for their jobs, but having the Principal of the team come out and say it forced Julien to weigh in.
“To be honest with you, I’ve always felt that we’re under evaluation all the time,” Julien said. “You don’t take this job and go in there and think it’s OK. Every year you’re being evaluated on what’s going on with the team and everything else. I think that’s a fair assessment. We all should be evaluated. Whether because he’s saying it now, is it because of the situation? Maybe. I don’t know, that’s up to Charlie to answer that. I’m OK with that statement.
“We made the playoffs seven years in a row with a lot of this group and this coaching staff, so at the same time, you look at the situation and you say what is the real issue and how do we deal with it, and that’s going to be up to them. So I have no issues. My job is always under evaluation, and I evaluate myself. I evaluate my coaches as well, I evaluate the players as well. I do that also. So I don’t know, maybe for you guys it’s a big statement — for me, it’s not.”
Julien was given a contract extension earlier this season. He compared this year’s Bruins to last season’s Red Wings, a squad that dealt with injuries to key players and made the playoffs. That’s a tough comparison to make, as the Bruins, who have missed Zdeno Chara and David Krejci for stretches, are completely healthy heading into the second half of the season.
“I guess everybody evaluates differently,” Julien said. “I look at our situation right now a lot like the Detroit Red Wings last year. A lot of injuries, a lot of in-and-outs and everything else. I’m not using excuses. We’ve not had the stability that we’d like to have, and it’s made for a rough road. Last year they made the playoffs with two or three games left. I’m not saying we’re going to be there with two or three games left. My evaluation and my job is to turn this thing around as quick as possible. There was no panic there. They understood the situation. I think right here, I don’t know how they evaluate the situation, but I know for a fact our guys, our group, our coaching staff, we’re going to try our best. It’s not good enough right now, but we’re determined to turn this thing around. Once it’s turned around, everyone will have smiles on their faces.
“Nobody likes to lose. The urgency that you’re alluding to, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t have that same urgency before even he said that. That would be a knock on our group. There is some urgency even if not everybody believes it. My job in the last couple days has been to get the guys to relax a little bit and not get so tense. Hopefully these comments don’t make it any worse. This is what we’ve got to deal with. I’ve got enough experience in this league to take this group of players and make them feel comfortable and understand that they’re capable of turning this around. I believe in this group, I really do.”
|Bruins break ground on Warrior Ice Arena as construction of practice facility begins||12.10.14 at 4:53 pm ET|
The Bruins broke ground on their new practice facility, which will be called Warrior Ice Arena, on Wednesday. Cam Neely, Charlie Jacobs, Peter Chiarelli, Mayor Marty Walsh and New Balance chairman Jim Davis were among those on hand for the event.
Warrior Ice Arena, which will be located in Brighton as part of New Balance’s Boston Landing project, is expected to open in September of 2016. The Bruins will continue to practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington until then.
That’s great news for the Bruins, eventually. Though both Neely and Jacobs thanked Ristuccia at every opportunity Wednesday, Ristuccia is not an NHL-caliber practice facility. Furthermore, its location is inconvenient to Boston.
The Bruins don’t have many things on which they can’t sell players. They’re a winning organization, they have a good coach, they spend to the cap annually and they have people in the front office who players throughout the league respect. Their practice facility, on paper, is really their only clear shortcoming when it comes to places to play for prospective free agents.
“I really think it means a lot to players. It means a lot to the organization and to the players,” Jacobs said. “What I mean by the players is if I’m one of them — Big Zee, Looch or Seth Griffith or whoever it is – you’re doing that grind of back and forth to the rink. Likewise, on an off day when the Celtics may be playing or there’s an event in the building, you’re out here. It means a lot to have a shorter commute.
“It makes life a lot easier, as we probably all are aware, but then you think about courting potential free agents. To be able to take them to not only the Garden and show them the work we’ve done there, but say, ‘Hey, listen. Come check out our practice facility,’ that’s a big selling point for a lot of clubs. It should be one for Boston’s and it will be very soon.”
Both Neely and Jacobs said that the team’s priority was to build a new facility within Route 128, with Jacobs saying he was “over the moon” with how things fell together with New Balance. Jacobs added that he feels the Bruins will “set [an] industry standard in terms of amenities, technology and quality when it comes to this training facility.”
|Charlie Jacobs on a window of opportunity for Bruins: ‘I do believe we’ll be right back there’||05.20.14 at 2:55 pm ET|
With a talented core and a young group of complimentary players in the fold, Bruins management and ownership feels there won’t be a drop-off in performance for while.
As a matter of fact, owner Jeremy Jacobs, son Charlie and team president Cam Neely said Tuesday during their season-ending media availability that there’s no reason to think the Bruins aren’t poised for another run at the Stanley Cup in 2015.
“[There’s] a tremendous amount of confidence in our both on-ice leadership and off-the-ice leadership,” Charlie Jacobs said. “A lot of character in our dressing room, and it starts with Zee [Zdeno Chara], but listen ‘ there are a lot of complimentary pieces, and when you consider Patrice [Bergeron] and Krech [David Krejci], and we may have lost something with Andy Ference but we picked it up with Jarome [Iginla]. And then there’s a lot of character and leadership, and they held each other accountable, and you saw in your exit interviews ‘ they all felt as though they maybe didn’t necessarily play their best but they let the team down, and that meant more to them than, say, their individual stats. And I think that speaks volumes about the mentality in the locker room itself, and that’s what you aspire to have.”
The Bruins reportedly did suffer a bit of a hit Tuesday with word that assistant general manager Jim Benning has been named general manager of the Vancouver Canucks, replacing the fired Mike Gillis.
“In terms of our organizational leadership, I think with Cam [Neely] and Peter [Chiarelli] and Don Sweeney and Jim [Benning], they’ve done a great job of really trying to assemble a mixture of both veteran and some young leadership to bring us back to the promised-land,” Charlie Jacobs added. “And you need that mix. You need the right mix. We maybe erred a bit, a little bit, in terms of having too many inexperienced defensemen. If you think about it, really only two of them ‘ two veterans on the back line this postseason. But as my dad referred to, that will pay dividends as you progress moving forward. So listen, I have great faith in both aspects. I do believe we’ll be right back there. I expect that we’ll be back there. Stranger things have happened, but I hope we start right out of the gate where we left off in March, not necessarily at the end of April.”
|Jeremy Jacobs has no intention of selling Bruins to buy NFL’s Buffalo Bills: ‘I kind of like where I am’||at 2:14 pm ET|
When Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs expressed interest in buying the Buffalo Bills in April, after the passing of longtime owner Ralph Wilson, Bruins fans wondered if that meant the end of his stewardship of the NHL franchise.
Tuesday, during a 25-minute address to reporters at TD Garden, Jacobs made it clear that he has no such intentions and is quite happy as the owner of the “Original Six” franchise.
“Well, I can’t buy the Bills, because I own the Bruins,” Jacobs said, referring to the NFL by-laws that prohibit owning teams in different cities. “That’s not a bad place to be. I kind of like where I am.”
Jacobs is among the wealthiest and most successful businessmen in the world, owning the Delaware North Companies, with an individual net worth of approximately $3.1 billion. Jacobs was initially among a group of several Western New York businessmen reported to be interested in the Bills. Another businessman reportedly interested was real estate tycoon Donald Trump.
Jacobs has owned the Bruins since 1975. Jacobs also represents the club on the NHL‘s Board of Governors and serves on its Executive Committee. At the NHL Board of Governors meeting in June 2007, Jacobs was elected Chairman of the Board, replacing the Calgary Flames‘ Harley Hotchkiss.
Jacobs made changes in management of the Bruins, with the retirement of veteran team president Harry Sinden from active management of the team into an advisory capacity. New management included Peter Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien. Cam Neely, who was on the dais Tuesday with Jacobs and Jacobs’ son Charlie, was also lured back to the new organization and subsequently named as President of the team.
Since 2008, the Bruins have made playoffs every year, winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, reaching the Cup finals in 2013 and winning the Presidents’ Trophy this past season as the team with the best record and most points (117).
|Bruins considering building practice facility next to TD Garden||10.02.13 at 3:04 pm ET|
Bruins principal Charlie Jacobs said Wednesday that the team is continuing to look into options for a new practice facility and that building one next to TD Garden is currently his top choice.
The Bruins are long overdue to upgrade from Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, and they’ve had reported interest in practicing at the sports complex being built by New Balance in Brighton.
Delaware North (the Jacobs family’s company) and Boston Properties filed formal plans for a Causeway St. complex last month, and Jacobs said he expects it to be reviewed by the Boston Redevelopment Authority in November.
“My hope would be that we would have a premier, world-class training facility,” Jacobs said Wednesday. “Not to say that we don’t have one at Ristuccia, but we think we could do better and a little bit of an upgrade. If it works out with our partners at Boston Properties — and we’re still penciling the numbers — there is a good chance that we would have one right next door in addition to some retail [stores], some restaurants.
“It’s a really good concept that we’d be rolling out to fill in this North End. If it happens to be a rink, great. If not, we’ll continue our discussions with [New Balance], with The Skating Club of Boston. There are a number of different options for us out there for us. This might be option 1 in my book at the moment. Things change though. This is a very evolving process.”