Summer is going fast...
Peter Chiarelli is not in any particular hurry for the 2009-10 season to begin.
"I'm not quite at that excitement stage," said the Boston Bruin GM with a slight smile. "But I am happy that we have most of our team in place."
Nobody could blame the B's general manager for looking forward to some time off. After all, the offseason is quickly becoming an endangered species for anyone involved in professional hockey. However, one would guess that Chiarelli might enjoy his rest just a little bit more with the addition of Derek Morris.
Morris, 30, will begin his 13th NHL season this fall. The 6’0”, 220 lb. native of Edmonton, Alberta was originally drafted by Calgary as their first pick, 13th overall, in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft and spent five seasons with the Flames
While with Calgary he played alongside current Bruins Marc Savard
, Andrew Ference
, Chuck Kobasew and new B's forward.
"We are very excited to have him on board," said Chiarelli of Morris last Saturday after the GM made the announcement regarding the defenseman's signing. "Derek is a right-shot defenseman who’s got considerable offensive skills.
"He can play both sides. He has a very thick, strong body and a very competitive edge. He can move a puck, he can find a seam and we feel that he’s an upgrade to our defense."
For his part, Morris sounded very happy to be wearing Black & Gold.
"Well first off, I want to thank the Boston Bruins organization for giving me the opportunity to come into a situation that most hockey players dream about," he said via teleconference, Saturday. "You want an opportunity to play hockey in a city...like Boston to start with, but [you also want] an opportunity to have a chance to go deep into the playoffs and win that ultimate goal of the Stanley Cup, and it’s a great honor for me to join this organization."
Morris said that he had options, but the fit in Boston seemed best.
"I had a few other calls from other teams that I was entertaining, but once I got a call from Peter with the Boston Bruins it pretty much made my decision very easy," said Derek. "I know a lot of people from Boston, and I realize the history there.
"I realize how tight everybody is, how passionate they are about hockey and I think being a hockey player you want to be around that."
Chiarelli said that the B's interest in Morris was longstanding.
"We had to do some housekeeping and we gave up as we did the other day, we traded a very good person [Aaron Ward] to make some room. And we brought Derek into Boston and he met with myself and a couple of our other people including Claude, and we talked philosophically about things on the ice and off the ice and there was a good fit there," said the Bruins GM.
"Upside" is a word that is overused in sports, but that's exactly what the Bruins boss described when it came to his new acquisition.
"I think you’ve seen the tip of the iceberg with Derek in the last couple of years," said Chiarelli. "He does have a very good skill set and he does see the ice very well
"He’s got a really good offensive skill set, but the thing that we really like about him too is his compete level and you’ll see that come September."
Morris' description of himself seemed to indicate a team-first attitude that should gel well in the B's locker room.
"I’m a guy that plays hard for my teammates," said Morris. "Obviously with the way the game has changed there’s not quite as much of that fighting as there used to be.
"I try not take those little two minute roughing penalty or that hooking penalty, or that penalty that does cost you in the long run.
"But I’m there for my teammates when things go bad, I’ll be the first one in there...[and] I’m willing to get in there for my teammates and do whatever we got to do to win games."
Chiarelli freely admitted that he is happy with the makeup of his blueline going forward.
"We feel we’ve added a number two defenseman to our mix right now, so we feel that we’ve improved and we’ve upgraded it," he said. "Derek...brings more skill to our lineup.
"He can retrieve pucks, he can move the pucks up and he can compete. I feel we’ve operated it to the tune of a little more mobile a little more when you talk about Matt (Hunwick) and Andrew Ference
[being] in the equation."
But don't get the idea that the B's will get pushed around on the back line.
"Derek is a tremendous competitor, he can handle [the physicality]," explained Chiarelli to the Boston press during Saturday's conference call. "Stuey’s (Mark Stuart) going to handle these things and of course Zdeno’s (Chara) there, so I don’t think we’ve lost any of that."
Fast forwarding to Tuesday, thanks to Morris and Co., Chiarelli sounded like a guy who will truly enjoy his vacation.
"I am going to take a couple of weeks off and we'll get back at it at the end of August and early September," he said.
However, something tells me that his BlackBerry will not be far away.