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Chiarelli to restore winning tradition

Friday, 06.2.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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Chiarelli to restore winning tradition

By Jeremy Lemoine

Boston, MA - There is a time and place for everything. For the Boston Bruins, the time for change is now and the place is 100 Legends Way. The Bruins organization is determined to improve. They want to make Boston a place where players yearn to play again. On Friday, May 26, the organization took that first step toward change by hiring just the seventh general manager in franchise history.

Peter Chiarelli, 41, agreed to take on the Jacobs’ challenge of turning the Boston Bruins franchise around and restoring the winning tradition to Boston.

“I would like to be very clear that the instructions given to me by the Jacobs’ are very clear and that is to return a winning tradition to the Boston Bruins organization and I am going to do that,” said Chiarelli.

Chiarelli, a Harvard graduate, is excited to have the opportunity to restore an Original Six franchise that has failed to win a Stanley Cup Championship since 1972.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, the new GM is not allowed to begin his duties in Boston until 15 days after free agency begins. Right now, if free agency begins on July 1 like it is believed to be, he will start on July 15. Until then, interim General Manager Jeff Gorton will carry out the duties, including the draft. There are certain duties that Chiarelli can work on, but he must go through the NHL and keep them informed on every move.

“I have some ability to manage, to a certain degree, with the Boston Bruins,” Chiarelli said. “There are some conditions attached to that. I have the ability to have input for free agents come July 1st.

“I’ve dealt with conflict before. It will be difficult, no question. I’ll be honest with you, it’ll be difficult, but as a lawyer you’re trained to deal with conflicts and to recognize them and work around them.”

When Chiarelli does finally move to Boston to begin working full-time for the Bruins, he will need to piece together a hockey team that can compete in the “new” NHL. The new rules have changed the game immensely from what it was in the past. Teams around the league are finding that if they have strong team speed and a quick transition game, they will have success. Chiarelli understands that and wants to bring that concept to the Bruins.

“I like an up-tempo game. I like skating. I like transition and I like puck movement,” he said. “I want the players that can skate. I want players with energy. I want players that can close the gaps and win pucks. I want a real true combination of speed and character.

“I’ve been lucky in my time with Ottawa to be under the tutelage of General Manager John Muckler, who has won five Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers. That was all about speed and character. I’m going to bring that to the Boston Bruins.”

The new general manager spoke with determination at Wednesday’s press conference. He is eager to bring a new culture to Boston hockey. A stigma that looms over the Bruins is that big-market players do not want to play here. Chiarelli is confident he can change that.

“I want to introduce a new, fresh culture for this organization,” said Chiarelli. “I want players to want to play here. I want players to want to stay here. I want players to want to move their families here. I want them to be proud. I want them to be proud to have the Boston Bruins logo on their chest.

“In my experience as an agent, I got to know the concerns of the players. There are on-ice concerns and there are off-ice concerns that are truly valid. Sometimes they get lost in translation.

“In my experience with management, you become part of a team. You want to win. That’s your main objective -- to win -- and sometimes you lose sight of these other things that the players are thinking. I think because I’ve experienced both, I will be able to draw them both together and unite a common, strong bond towards a winning tradition for the Boston Bruins.”

Chiarelli certainly has a big job to do in Boston. After the way he conveyed his plan and carried himself in the press conference on Wednesday, there is little doubt that he can deliver for the Bruins and their fans.

“In my time (at Harvard), I really truly learned and experienced the Boston fan. It was quite a thing,” he said. “Enthusiastic, proud, a winning tradition, heart -- and I expect that. I know I can deliver it. It is my commitment to bring back the winning tradition to the Boston Bruins organization.”
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