When Peter Chiarelli was named general manager of the Boston Bruins in the spring of 2006, the organization, from top to bottom, was a complete mess.
Seven years later, the Black and Gold find themselves as perennial contenders for the Stanley Cup. And a good chunk of that has to do with Chiarelli's history of wheeling and dealing.
As a result, Chiarelli will keep his GM title for quite some time after signing a well-deserved, four-year contract extension through the 2017-18 season.
"He's done a fantastic job as a GM since he's been here and [he] certainly deserves the extension," Bruins President Cam Neely said at Friday's press conference.
"We've made the postseason the last six years, and one of the things we talk about here, being a Boston Bruin is not just about making the postseason, but competing for a Stanley Cup. We've been to the finals twice - won in 2011 - and Pete's done a really good job keeping our core group together, identifying the core group [and] making sure we lock them up. He's done a really good job of understanding the type of player our fan base really enjoys watching."
During Chiarelli's seven years at the helm, the Bruins have compiled an astonishing 291-187-62 regular season record and a 50-35 mark in the playoffs. Their only losing season came in 2006-07, which was also the last team they missed the playoffs under then head coach Dave Lewis.
Since then, the Black and Gold haven?t looked back, and neither has Chiarelli. Under his watch, the B's replaced Lewis with Claude Julien for the 2007-08 season. At times, both Chiarelli and Julien were under scrutiny from the fans, and certain media personalities like Michael Felger. Their track record, however, speaks for itself: three Northeast Division titles, two Eastern Conference championships and one Stanley Cup.
Sure, Chiarelli has had some blunders over the eight years. Whether it would be signing free agents like Joe Corvo and Benoit Pouliot to drafting prospects that didn't pan out, and trades like Brandon Bochenski for Kris Versteeg and a conditional draft pick (during the 2006-07 trade deadline), Chia has certainly had some misses along the way.
But for every miss, the Bruins GM has made up for it quite nicely, including the signing Zdeno Chara in his first offseason, acquiring Dennis Seidenberg, Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell via trade, and watching the development of guys like David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask, just to name a few.
While the roster has had some significant turnover this summer, including the departures of Horton, Andrew Ference (acquired from the Calgary Flames in the 2007 trade deadline), Rich Peverley (acquired from the Atlanta Thrashers in 2011) and Tyler Seguin (the B's former second overall pick in 2010), Chiarelli was certainly busy improving his organization by landing Loui Eriksson (coming over from Dallas in the trade with Peverley and Seguin) and signing Jarome Iginla.
Improving his team and keeping their status as a perennial Cup contender is something Chiarelli wants to continue doing in The Hub of Hockey.
"We will continue to have challenges as a team, and that's a good thing," he said. "Our challenges are now at a level that we can compete for a Stanley Cup every year. It's my mandate, my charge to do that."
He is now one of the longest tenured GM's in Boston sports because he's always willing to make a shrewd move if he believes it will benefit the team. But even with all the acquisitions, perhaps his best move was standing by Julien when critics were demanding a coaching change. That alone has reaped significant benefits for Chiarelli and the B's.
As we enter the 2013-14 season, it's clear that Chiarelli has assembled another team that can compete for Lord's Stanley.
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