The Bear Cave

June 16, 2009 6:17 AM

Chiarelli Signs on his own Dotted Line

The big season for signing free agents is still a few weeks away, but the Boston Bruins made sure to stay active, finishing off a different type of contract. On Monday, the club announced the signing of General Manager Peter Chiarelli to a multi-year contract. The Bruins did not disclose terms of the deal, but there may be a better idea of what the numbers look like at the end of the week. Chiarelli's original contract was set to expire at the end of the 2009-10 season, which shows that both he and the team are committed to the current relationship.

Peter Chiarelli was brought to the Bruins' organization on May 26, 2006, approximately one month after a frustrating 29-37-16 season following the lockout. The Ottawa, Ontario native took over for Interim General Manager Jeff Gorton, who replaced Mike O'Connell during March of that season.

The 2006-07 season was another disappointing one for Boston, as the team struggled on the ice with a 35-41-6 record, and a second consecutive last-place finish in the Northeast Division. Chiarelli had hired Dave Lewis to coach the club that season, but opted to let him go during the summer.

In terms of the NHL club, that's where the true turnaround began, as Claude Julien was hired as the Bruins' new head coach. Julien's defense first philosophy led the team into the playoffs with a mark of 41-29-12, and within one win of upsetting the top-seeded Montreal Canadiens in round one. Julien and the B's got their revenge the next season, sweeping Montreal after a thrilling 53-19-10 regular season. Unfortunately, the second round wasn't as fortunate, as Boston fell in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes.

One of the areas that Peter Chiarelli has had success in has been with trades. Less than one month into his current job, Chiarelli put a good taste in the mouths of fans around Boston, as he sent Andrew Raycroft to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Tuukka Rask, who has quickly become the goaltender of the future for the Black and Gold.

After a fairly quiet remainder of the summer, Chiarelli made his mark with some more impact moves in February of 2007. Although the 2006-07 campaign was beginning to look glum, the Bruins had a plan in place for the following season, bolstering the blueline with Andrew Ference, Dennis Wideman, and Aaron Ward. Chuck Kobasew was also added at that time, and he has produced back-to-back 20-goal seasons since.

With a solid team this past season, Chiarelli came through at the trade deadline once again, bringing in the likes of Mark Recchi and Steve Montador. Recchi was an offensive force in the final weeks of the regular season, and his veteran presence in the dressing room helped in leading the team to the second round of the playoffs. Montador's agility and heart were also a factor in the team's success this past spring.

The second area that has seen a drastic improvement since Chiarelli's hiring has been free agents. The two biggest years for the Bruins in the market have been 2006 and 2008. In 2006, Chiarelli hit the ground running, locking up Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard to long term deals. The two players combined for a plus-minus rating of minus-40 during the 2006-07 season, but have turned into two franchise faces since.

The 2008 offseason was a unique one, as fans were hoping to land another big name to the puzzle. On the night of July 1st, Boston announced the signing of ex-Canadien Michael Ryder. Although some were skeptical, Ryder performed admirably with 27 goals, 26 assists, and 53 points. The other July 1st signing might go down as one of the best moves in franchise history. Blake Wheeler joined the Black and Gold from Phoenix, before registering 21 goals, 24 assists, and 45 points as a rookie out of the University of Minnesota. The third notable signing from last summer is one that might get overlooked from an offensive standpoint, but his value to the team was a large one. That was Stephane Yelle, who had seven goals and 11 assists, while denying opponents' power plays on a regular basis.

The road to success doesn't end there. Seven of Chiarelli's 20 draft picks have played in at least one full season of professional hockey, while Phil Kessel and Milan Lucic have each spent over 100 games with the big club in Boston.

So, what about developing young talent and whatnot? Well, look no further than the Providence Bruins. While having success at the NHL level, Chiarelli has also created quite the farm system. Providence has won at least one playoff series in each of Chiarelli's three seasons in the organization, finishing with the best record in the AHL in 2007-08, and reaching the Eastern Conference Final in 2008-09. Players such as David Krejci and Mark Stuart are just a couple of the names that will be sure to make an impact in Boston for years to come after spending significant time developing in Rhode Island.

But, before you go thinking that it's all about the young prospects in Providence, consider the moves that Chiarelli made to improve his affiliate last summer. Matt Marquardt, Johnny Boychuk, and Martin St. Pierre were all brought in, and all served to be vital parts of helping the P-Bruins into the third round of the Calder Cup Playoffs. Fans in Providence were disappointed to see the departure of Jonathan Sigalet, Matt Hendricks, and Pascal Pelletier, but the return was better than they could have hoped for. St. Pierre led the Baby B's with 51 assists and 66 points, Boychuk won the Eddie Shore Award for the top defenseman, and Marquardt had a respectable start to his career with nine goals and 22 points.

With Peter Chiarelli in the fold for years into the future, expect more success on Causeway Street and LaSalle Square, as the Boston Bruins and Providence Bruins continue to build toward their respective championships. Chiarelli's next task takes place on June 26th at the NHL Entry Draft in Montreal.

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