John Bishop is the beat writer for BostonBruins.com. He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
On Wednesday, the Bruins took two more steps toward completing the puzzle that is the Black & Gold’s 2008-09 roster.
1.) The club signed Dennis Wideman to a multi-year extension. 2.) Boston placed Glen Murray on waivers.
One in. One out. It’s the nature of the game in its current epoch.
“I am very pleased to announce the signing of Dennis Wideman to a multi-year contract,” was how Peter Chiarelli began this afternoon’s conference call with the media.
“We brought Dennis into the mix...and he’s the type of player that we had targeted to bring in.
“And certainly, over the course of this year, he has truly entered into a new level of play.”
As far as the veteran Murray is concerned, Chiarelli expressed some sadness about the necessities of tough decisions in the modern NHL.
“It was really, really difficult,” said the GM. “Muzz is a very good person and he meant a lot to the room.
“You have to make hard decisions in this new system and that was one of those hard decisions. The fact that we put him on waivers…it’s not a very good thing (for a player) to hear, especially for someone who has served the time he has with us.”
“Again, it’s a hard decision and it’s not written in stone that he will be bought out, but it is a step towards that, and it’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the game.”
Chiarelli made it clear that Wideman’s new deal was not the sole impetus for Murray’s change of status and said that no conclusions should be made “because we are addressing the two things at the same time.”
“It’s an overall impact and…it’s a fair question to ask, but you can’t say that Dennis signed this, therefore Muzz is on waivers,” said Chiarelli. “These are things and scenarios that you look at over the course of the last six months.
“It just so happened that these things happened at the same time (and) you can’t connect the two directly,” he said.
Wideman’s signing can be directly connected to the improvement that he showed over the course of the B’s 2008 playoff run.
“We had projected (his success), but we’re very happy to see him get there,” said Chiarelli. “He’s a tremendous puck mover, and he’s a tremendous competitor, he fits in well to our system and he can log a lot of ice time.
“So we are really happy to see him signed…and I think we are a good fit.”
Discussions that Chiarelli had with Wideman solidified his high opinion of the young defenseman.
“I’ve had the occasion to sit down with Dennis during the course of this negotiation and talk to him, philosophically, and I am really impressed with what I see and hear,” said Chiarelli. “You can see somebody day-to-day at the rink, but when you can sit down and talk to him face-to-face, it really gives you a true picture of the person and I am very impressed with Dennis.”
For many seasons, there were also a number of reasons to be impressed with the veteran Murray. After all, 1009 games of NHL experience, 337 big league goals and 314 assists are impressive numbers.
As such, Chiarelli was asked who would step up into any leadership void created by Murray’s absence.
“You hope everyone does,” said the B’s boss. “I’m not going to single out any one or two or three players.
“I would expect, (with) the growth of the players from last year, (they) will be able to pick up and fill that void.
“If Glen’s not there, then there have to be other guys to pick up the slack, and I fully expect them to,” he said.
While answering a question about the B’s defensive corps, Wideman himself may have given some insight into where the B’s leadership would come from in September.
“I think I remember reading headlines last year of that being a big point of concern going into last season was the defensive core,” said the blueliner. “I remember being in the room with guys like (Zdeno) Chara and (Aaron) Ward, guys that had been around for a long time, and they took some offense to that.
“I think as a defensive core we made a lot of strides last year, and as a core we were pretty good.”
As the call wound down, Chiarelli sounded pleased with the direction that the B’s had taken last season and emphasized a number of other important developments.
“First and foremost I feel that we can improve and do better,” he explained. “You also have to take into account that we’re getting back Patrice (Bergeron and) we’re going to get back a healthy Manny (Fernandez).
“You’ve added two other pieces that were already there that didn’t contribute as originally planned (last season). So, other than signing players and keeping the core intact, you’re adding to the core with two players that are already part of the core but didn’t contribute.
“It’s kind of an extension of some good chemistry. That’s why we felt that we should give some term to some of these guys.”
Wideman’s statements throughout the call consistently backed up his boss’ statements.
“The last couple of years, it’s been one-year deals and stuff like that, but to get a (multi-year) contract… makes me feel really good,” he said. “It makes me want to be a part of this organization for a long time moving forward.
“As a team this year, we took a lot of great strides, made the playoffs and had a great run. I’m looking forward to being a part of going a lot further."