BOSTON, MA - Stability. Trust. Stewardship.
These are words that kept weaving themselves into the press conference on Friday morning to discuss General Manager Peter Chiarelli's four-year contract extension, that keeps him at the helm of the team's hockey operations until the 2017-18 season, at least.
Bruins Principal Charlie Jacobs and President Cam Neely completed the trip of ownership, executive and management atop the podium who have established a credibility with the spoked-B that makes them a Stanley Cup contender year after year.
"He’s done a fantastic job as a GM since he’s been here and certainly deserves the extension," Neely started off the presser. "[We've] made the post season the last six years and one of the things we talked about here being a Boston Bruins is, not just making the postseason but competing for Stanley Cups. We’ve been to the finals twice, one as you know in 2011."
"Pete’s done a really good job of keeping our core group together, identifying the core groups, making sure that we lock them up, he’s done a really good job at understanding the type of player that our fan base really enjoys watching, and it's a little bit more difficult under the cap scenario than maybe most realize."
Chiarelli and the club have rewarded their core players through the years like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask with long-term contracts - the later B's each signing an eight-year extension this summer.
There's often a level of risk involved with any contract extension awarded to player or management, but in this case, it's severely outweighed by a high trust factor.
"You certainly have to have a lot of trust and confidence in management, not just the GM but in our management," said Jacobs, who recalled how far the franchise has come in the past seven or eight years.
"These discussions in particular this summer, regarding the contract extensions that we signed Patrice and Tuukka to, we committed over 100 million dollars in a matter about a week just this summer to two players. I think that that speaks volumes about the amount of trust we place in not only Peter but his hockey operations department and their projections about how these player personnel will deliver for us in the future."
"That stability is key. We have to have that core. Peter spoke to identifying that core and trying to keep this core together for a long run," Jacobs added. "That also speaks for your coaching staff. Claude [Julien] just had a new contract extension last year and, again, back to the stewardship, you need to have that long term stability to really deliver a championship team."
Forming that caliber of a team has spurned from Chiarelli's stable, yet proactive and aggressive approach.
"We will continue to have challenges as a team and that is a good thing because our challenges are now at a level that we compete for the Stanley Cup and we want to compete for the Stanley Cup every year and it’s my mandate, my charge to do that," said the GM.
Neely highlighted the organization's track record with Chiarelli's plan in place - six straight postseasons, two Final appearances, the crowning Stanley Cup moment in 2011.
For Chiarelli, though, his single proudest moment throughout his first seven seasons with the B's, was the hiring of Head Coach Claude Julien prior to the 2007-08 season.
Therein has stemmed a receptive relationship between the GM-coaching duo, that extends to the entire coaching staff, management group, and players.
"Stability is really important and significant when you are delivering these messages. It goes down right through Charlie to Cam to me to Claude to the players and they like stability," said Chiarelli.
"You have to keep everybody on their toes," he added. "So there is stability, there’s strong leadership but you have to keep everybody on their toes, especially in this cap world, so you can be stable and proactive and that is what I like to think we do as a group."
The relationship between Chiarelli and Neely has also kept the plan clear, from top to bottom.
"We stand for a lot of the same things and we like the same types of players and we will continue to try and get those types of players in the mix, however difficult it is," said Chiarelli, on the way the two specifically see eye-to-eye.
"We all have the same expectations," said Neely. "There is really no grey area with Pete [like with Claude], so as a player, you know where you kind of stand and I think that is important, to get the most out of the players."
As the above thoughts show, it's definitely not lost on Chiarelli that however his own attributes may help the organization - communication and being able to deliver his message well among those strengths - he's a firm believer that "you're only as good as the people around you."
"We talked about Charlie and his family and Cam and I’ve got two great assistants in Don Sweeney and Jimmy Benning and these guys, I mean, they go through the trenches. You don’t see them as much as us but these guys go through the trenches and I’m really appreciative of those two guys," the GM said, making sure to acknowledge his staff's work.
"I could mention a lot of people but I wanted to mention those two guys because I appreciate the feedback and the support and the work that they put in for us."
Reflecting on his tenure with the club, Chiarelli has focused in on areas he'd like to improve moving forward, like bringing more balance into the lineup with youth interlaced with a strong leadership, veteran presence.
But we can't overlook the amount of success he's already brought to this franchise, being only one of three general managers in team history to win a Stanley Cup (Art Ross and Milt Schmidt - the other two - are not bad company to keep).
"There were some hard decisions and there were sleepless nights, especially that first year," said Chiarelli, looking back to when he was hired in 2006. "But, you know, I talked about delivering a message, Cam talked about the plan, to be consistent and to stick by your standards and to stick by your principles - eventually, that trickles down and you start seeing the fruits of your labor."
The GM and his group know their plan. It's about being proactive and aggressive. It's about being consistent, yet never complacent. They trust the plan, and trust each other. And it's what they trust will win the Stanley Cup for Boston.
"I feel very confident in the hockey minds that we have here running this franchise," said Charlie Jacobs. "Peter used the word stewardship - I think that is an excellent term in that we see this as an asset that is really Boston’s - and we are just here as stewards. And I am very proud of the leadership we have here."
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