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Boston Bruins Front Office Pre-Draft Media Availability

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins

BOSTON BRUINS GENERAL MANAGER PETER CHIARELLI MEDIA AVAILABILITY AT 11 AM

On the Bruins’ recently announced personnel changes…


Yeah, you saw the release. There were three promotions. We promoted Scott Bradley from Director of Player Personnel to Assistant General Manager. We effectively replaced the seat of Jimmy Benning. Scott has been here a long time — prior to my tenure. He’s done a lot of good stuff on the amateur side and the pro side. He’s very diligent, he sees the game the right way and he deserved the promotion. So we made him Assistant General Manager. He’ll have, I guess, a temporary residence here — like he’ll come through the Boston area, he’ll see Providence more, he’ll see our team more, he’s basically — involving him more in the strategic planning. We hired John Ferguson as Executive Director of Player Personnel. I’ve known John for a long time and I’ve always been impressed with his work ethic. He’s got a real good eye. He knows both the game, the players and the business of the game. We felt we needed a strong player personnel type in our front office. He’ll stay in Providence, but again, he’ll be involved in the strategic planning also. He’s there a lot anyway but he’ll be scouting all over the place and he’ll be doing some amateur scouting, too. Then Ryan Nadeau, we promoted to the Director of Hockey Ops and Analytics. It’s more the analytics piece that’s kind of a — it’s not a new thing. We’ve always done it. But we wanted to augment the department a little bit. He’ll be in charge of doing that. It’s always a supplemental piece to our decision-making. We just wanted to make sure we’re growing it and doing it properly, and Ryan has been with the organization for quite a while. He’s a point guy on that anyways, so he generates a lot of lists and metrics that we see when we’re making our decisions and I just wanted to give him that promotion and let him grow the department. So those are the three.

On the Bruins’ use of statistical analysis…
There’s a lot of stuff and there’s stuff you get off the game report and the real-time stats, and you can generate tons of stuff from that. But we do other stuff, too. We do some regression analysis and stuff, and we just — we’re not really going to publicize it. This is proprietary stuff. But there’s a lot of stuff that you derive from chances and shot attempts and shot value and all that. We do a lot of stuff like that, but we’re just going to kind of grow with it. It’s changing quickly, and we want to make sure we’re there.

On the challenge of integrating statistical analysis into talent evaluation…
Your first instinct in scouting and talent evaluation is it’s another piece. We used to do it back in Ottawa — we did it more on the amateur scouting side, and you just can’t get caught up in it too much. It’s another piece of info that — it promotes discussion, and through that, you end up back on the talent evaluation. So I think it’s a real instructional piece and we just don’t publicize it. We just thought that Ryan’s been doing this for a while and we wanted to make sure he got some credit for it.

On rise of analytics in talent evaluation…
You can derive a lot of stuff from your software, your scouting software, and I know a lot of teams do that. I think it’s more in the forefront. You’ve got people talking about it more. I think a lot of teams have been doing it and using it. It’s always been a piece that we’ll look at in conjunction with everything else. It seems to be trending. I see people talking about it a lot. I know a lot of teams have been doing it and using it. I think maybe the media has talked about it a lot more, but I mean, you see there’s more conferences coming up and it’s something that is part of the game.

On the asset of Scott Bradley’s talent evaluation skills...
Well, before and since, it’s been tremendous. He’s got a lot of experience. He’s got a very keen eye. He’s got his handprints all over this team, so he’s been a real solid guy and he worked with his dad. He’s just — when someone talks about, “He’s a Bruin,” and when he says that — he’s been a Bruin for many years, and he’s just got a good way of looking at players. He likes character players, but he also recognizes skill. Experience is very important in that department, and he’s got it, and the fact that he’s been with the Bruins for that long, he kind of has his finger on the pulse of the organization, and what type of players we want, and how we want to build the team. So he’s been very important.

On Boston’s prospects for the 2014 NHL Draft…
It’s a different draft. It thins out, and when it thins out, teams have a lot of different lists. So normally, like if we’re 25, we’re looking at the 17th or 16th player on our list, normally. But maybe we’re going to get the 13th player on our list now because it kind of branches out once you get down past 10 or 11, and everyone has their own kind of favorites because it thins out. There’s a lot of skilled forwards in the mix and that’s kind of one of the things we’re looking for. We’re looking for size, strength, speed — I don’t know if we’re going to get that in the first round. But there’s a lot of skilled forwards.

On the chances of a Bruins pick from this draft playing in the NHL next year…
Not at 25. We’d have to move up. Even to move up to like 17 or 18, it’s going to cost a lot. So I talked about how this draft’s going to branch out after 10, 11 or 12 — it may be that you’re going to get a pick at 25 that you think you’d have to move up to get 17 [on your list], just because of that. So you have to see how it’s going around that area. I don’t expect to move up.

On the fact that Jarome Iginlas agent is talking to other teams…
I met with him last night. So this shopping period is a shopping period. So that doesn’t surprise me, that he’s talking to other teams, but as I’ve said, it’s a guy we want to try and sign, but we’ll see how it goes.

On what Iginla could be seeking…
This is not about what Iggy [Jarome Iginla] wants and what he should do and what morally he should do. It’s nothing about that. This is about, can we find room to fit him in? And that’s what it’s about.

On whether it is “painful” to come to the realization that a trade might be necessary in order to retain Iginla…
I wouldn’t call it painful, but there’s players that you don’t like trading. So maybe there’s some pain involved in that.

On whether the free agent class being thin puts more emphasis on trades…
Yeah, but that may not be till after kind of the first rush [of free agency]. So sometime in early July. I would think there would be, yeah.

On whether the trade market is quiet, at the moment…
For me, yeah, it is. I don’t anticipate making a trade. There might be a minor one, but I don’t anticipate making a big trade, or this weekend. So you guys can come off the high alert. [Laughter]

On whether he anticipates any blockbuster trades this weekend…
Yeah, there’s probably going to be a couple. I think every year, there’s a couple. There’s been more activity — I mentioned this in my conference call — there’s been more activity. We’ve got some new guys that are pushing agendas, new GMs, so there’s more activity for that. You’ve got a weaker free agent pool, so there’s more activity. It’s in and around — the draft is a little thin, so the picks aren’t as valuable, so the teams are more willing to make some deals, so there’s been more activity for that. Now, activity versus pulling the trigger — that’s a different thing. So we’ll see about that.

On whether he thinks Iginla will come back and talk to Bruins after talking with other teams…
I would think so. Jarome [Iginla] wants to stay, and we’re trying to find a spot for him, but we’re both big boys. If we can’t, we can’t, but certainly we’re both trying to work at it.

On whether he has received trade offers from other general managers…
When they see all this talk about [Jarome] Iginla, it’s like, yeah, Chiarelli’s going to have to move someone. So yeah, I do. They want to help out. [Laughter] They want to help the Bruins. I’d be doing the same thing if it was going the other way.

On his general outlook going into next year…
In a broad sense, I feel good. With Jarome [Iginla], or that type of player, it would obviously be better, but we’ve got some players that are going to come up and bubble up. And I always like that energy and enthusiasm those guys bring. So I feel good. Our younger guys are getting better, and we’re still in a real good spot as far as contending. If we can’t do anything July 1 to July 5, that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to do anything. Everyone tries to jam this stuff into this weekend, and it usually never happens. You got to be patient. You got to pick away at this stuff, as far as team building. So it may happen July 5. We may try to do something in September. We may try to do something in November. This kind of stuff — we’re always trying to improve our team. I know I always say that, but we actually are, and we’ve got alternatives that are good hedges if we don’t get something done right away.

On his outlook if Jarome Iginla happens to sign somewhere else…
We’ve got good alternatives. I’d like to have Iggy [Jarome Iginla]. I’d like to have that right shot. Iggy’s right shot is good. So if you look on our right side, we’ve got two lefties right now. You see how he plays. He plays a Bruins style of game.

On John Ferguson history as a general manager…
Hey, listen, this time — I’ve spent time with him during his time in Toronto, and he got a raw deal. This is a smart hockey man. You talk to him and he’s a smart hockey man, and this guy works hard and knows players. So I’ve known him for a long time, and I see how he works. In this business, there are people that lose jobs — if you look at our coach, there are people who lose jobs and learn form those experiences and get better. Claude [Julien] is the perfect example of that. Whether he should have lost his job or not is another matter of debate, and I’d see John as the same thing. He’s a smart guy, he’s a humble guy and he’s really going to help our organization.

On the departure of Assistant Coach Geoff Ward, and his impact on improving the Bruins’ power play…
When we’re under the gun for the power play, it seems like he takes the brunt, and that stuff kind of carries over. But we improved our personnel — that really helped our power play. So maybe in hindsight, people — his critics — look and see maybe it wasn’t his fault. So there’s a good list of candidates, and Claude [Julien] and I are going over them. We’re in no hurry. There’s a real good list of candidates. It has to be the right fit. I think it’s a good opportunity for somebody. But as far as Wardy [Geoff Ward] goes, he’ll be missed.

On Ward’s impact, beyond the power play…
That was one of his items on his portfolio. He did everything. He’s a good teacher. When you talk about teaching methods and visual techniques, he was good with that. You saw our young D kind of bubble up a bit, and that’s helpful. He can relate to those younger guys, too.

On Ward’s decision to leave the Bruins…
He had a very good opportunity in the German League. He came to us and he said, “I understand if you don’t let me go, but this is something I want to do.” He was under contract. So we’re letting everybody go. [Laughter]

On whether he would like to see compensation for such departures come into play in the future…
There will be, in the future. There will be for those that become GMs, head coaches or President of Hockey Operations. There’s going to be a draft pick for it starting in September.

On his opinion of the potential for increased penalties for embellishment…
Well, I think it’s a step in the right direction. I’ve been on record — a lot of guys have been on record saying this is a real big problem, and if you look at wanting to make the game better rather than just strictly focusing on punishing the diver or the embellisher, I think you can really do good things. There’s kind of two streams — one, the actual diver, and two, the team. And I think that places obviously the onus on the coach and the team because — I don’t like it. It doesn’t look good, and I know it’s hard to call. It’s an impossible call to make, and I know how hard it is to make it, so we got to help them out.

On the meetings on Thursday…
I didn’t go. Only briefly. The rule package was approved. We don’t know what the cap is yet.

On whether he expects to get the cap number on Friday…
That’s what I’m told, but it could be any time.

On whether he anticipates any significant rule changes…
No. There’s the tripping rule on the breakaway, puck first… wrong change and the scrape, and the good scrape after regulation rather than the shuffles and the Zamboni scrape, so you get a better overtime — more likelihood of scoring goals in overtime.

BOSTON BRUINS ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER SCOTT BRADLEY PRE-DRAFT MEDIA AVAILABILITY

On if he was interested to broaden his field of responsibility…
I think so. Pete [Chiarelli] approached me and we looked at everything and it was a good fit.

On if he’s been doing pretty much everything anyway…
Yeah, I started from the ground floor and moved my way on up right from scouting to head scout running the draft table back when there was no amateur or pro I was running the scouting department.

On if he ever had aspirations to get to Assistant GM or a GM position…
I think with time passing, with Jimmy [Benning] and Donnie [Sweeney]. Just our group has been a pleasure to work with. Just being involved and running the draft table for 12-15 years and having success that way and seeing what Jimmy [Benning] has done. It’s kind of crept in to mind but when the top guys want to look at you that way, you respect it and here we are today.

On what he likes about this Bruins team…
I like our group. Right from down the middle, our defense, our goaltending is solid. You know, we’re going to tweak here at the draft and hopefully we can get some players for the future. It’s a good group, we’re one of the top teams in the League and we’re going to keep it going.

On the front office group and how they work…
Well I thank Pete [Chiarelli] and Cam [Neely] for giving me the opportunity and the Jacobs family. But when you look at our group, it’s a good group, Keith Gretzky, Donnie Sweeney, you know, we all get along and we make decisions together with Pete [Chiarelli] being our leader and we’ve had success that way. Me transitioning, I think made it a little easier for me because I’ve been with the team for 22-plus years so it’ll be a challenge but I look forward to it.

On what a kind of qualities he looks for in a “Bruins type player”…
Well I think that just comes with experience through the years, watching, going through some tough times like we did over the course of my career. We missed the playoffs there a couple years and to get a [Joe] Thornton, a [Sergei] Samsonov and I could go through the whole crew. You know, experience is a big thing in the scouting department and I’ve learned over the years what it means to be a Bruin and what it means to play in a city and I think that translated with Jimmy [Benning] and our whole group with Donnie [Sweeney] and Cam [Neely]. True Bruins. So I think it’s – to be a Bruin, you have to have that blue collar work ethic, the heart, the character. It’s exciting to put on the uniform and we want the players that feel that way.

On what his take is on this draft…
I think it’s a bit underrated draft. I think the first two rounds are very solid. I think you're going to get good value. I think we’re going to get good value at 25 and I think we pick 56th. So I think that there is value there, I think some of the top picks are not the bonofied super stars, I think that they're going to be above average players in the league and one or two of them might pop out to be stars. So I think, overall, the depth for defense isn’t there but you’ll see later on that a lot of forwards are good players out there.

On if the draft next year will be better…
I think you’re looking at, you know, some top end star potential players with [Connor] McDavid, Michael and there’s a few other kids that could push. But for star quality players, that draft is shaping up to be pretty exciting too.

On the transition happening with the forwards and the defense this upcoming season…
Yeah, I think it started last year to be honest. I think there will be more – our kids are getting ready to really make a push for the big team. I don’t know how many spots are going to be open, it could be upwards to three or four maybe. But it wouldn’t surprise me if one of the youngsters made the team this year.

BOSTON BRUINS DIRECTOR OF HOCKEY OPERATIONS/ANALYTICS RYAN NADEAU PRE-DRAFT MEDIA AVAILABILITY

On this being a long career path…
Yeah, no it’s exciting. It’ll be a great new challenge, you know, something that I have been interested in for a little while and to be able to get this opportunity is huge. You know, there will be some challenges but I am excited about it and it should be fun.

On starting at rock bottom...
No, I mean it’s great. I think the whole experience has just been kind of somewhat amazing in the fact of, as you alluded to, starting at rock bottom for my hometown team to be able to work my way up. No, it’s great the way that our organization is run and certainly I think I’ve tried to work really hard and do whatever they ask me to do and just happy to just keep getting new challenges and moving along.

On if it has been interesting to watch how much analytics has come to the forefront…
Yeah I mean, it’s certainly been a, at least from the outside, a quick sort of evolution of where the analytics is heading and how teams are using it. So, I mean, yeah that part is a challenge because there is a lot going on. It is constantly changing and evolving but that’s a good thing. I think, for us, we are in a position to you know, just continue to make sure that we are using every tool possible to evaluate and help us in our decision making process. It’s just another tool to help us.

On if analytics has grown faster than he could have imagined…
Yeah, I mean I think one of the biggest growths is just the fact that people who are doing some of that work aren’t affiliated with teams and stuff have now a medium to get it out there. You know, lots of blogs and websites and stuff that – people are doing some pretty impressive stuff and just posting it. So as that happens, more and more people are seeing it and using it. So the growth has been quick but I think part of it is just because of the technology these days, it’s easier to get the word out there. And some of it is, you know, some people have done an extremely good job of detailed work and we’re going to use some tools to continue to do that on our end.

On how he might get an insight of a player or team with using analytics…
Well, I mean, what we’re looking at is taking some – maybe a different approach or a different look at some nontraditional stats. Like if you think your traditional stats: your goals, points, plus/minus, things like that that we try to get more involved than just that. You know, a lot of our stuff, as most things are centered around possession and shots and things like that. Some of them obviously are proprietary and I can't really get in to details on it but we’re just going to continue to evaluate players in a different way as another tool to kind of let us look back on and help us make those decisions.

On what the balance is between analytics and using what you see…
Well, I mean, it’s just another tool. It’s another resource that when you're going to make a decision its there in front of you and it helps shape what you're doing. I don’t know if you can put a certain percentage on it and how you're doing it but obviously it’s supplementing what eyeballs are doing. Like, we’re going to obviously continue to scout and scout heavily. This, again, is just one more resource that if we didn’t go down that road we would kind of be losing a good piece of evaluating players. We’re – for us, it’s just a normal process to make sure we’re doing everything we can when we are making our decisions. And like I said, as it continues to evolve, some of these things are going to get more important in some of the decision making process. But it’s never going to get 100 percent analytics.

On if he has come across any extreme examples where numbers say a different thing from what he thought…
Yeah, I mean, I think kind of the funny thing with watching players, especially if you're watching for a while, your eyeballs can trick you a little bit on certain things. So having the data and the factual things to back it up, I think once you look at that, often times it supports what you're thinking. But yes, there are examples every now and then where you’re like, huh that’s interesting. And then you go back and look at it and say, you know, what, I can see where I was kind of misled. Specific example would probably be tough to give you in terms of – don’t really want to share. But there are examples of it.

On if he uses outside work and websites…
Yeah, I’ve looked at those.

On if they are a resource that he uses…
We do our own in house stuff but no. They are certainly a tool and I think it would be silly to not look at them and understand what they’re doing. But no, we have our own sort of metrics of how we like to look at players and how we evaluate sort of their success as players. And it’s constantly evolving but we’re diving into it, we’ve already been in it but now we’re really just going to continue to work through it and probably escalate what we’re doing.

On using all means possible…
Yeah, we continue to use every resource possible and that’s really what this is. It’s sort of just making sure that we’re staying up to date with sort of, if you want to call it cutting edge technology. But we’re just staying up to date and hoping to push the field a little bit. I think we’ve done a good job in the past in using some stuff and developing some stuff and we are just going to continue to do that and it’s going to be part of our decision-making.

On if he will keep scouting the colleges…
Yes, I’m going to continue to do colleges.

On if there would be any new responsibilities for him…
You’d have to talk to Peter Chiarelli about that.

BOSTON BRUINS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF PLAYER PERSONNEL JOHN FERGUSON MEDIA AVAILABILITY

On whether he believes this is a good fit…
On a number of levels. It really couldn’t be a better fit professionally, personally and competitively.

On where he will be living…
I’m down in Rhode Island. From that perspective, really, it couldn’t be better for myself, my family, and joining an organization of this stature with this kind of success behind them really was a great fit for me. A great opportunity to join Peter [Chiarelli] and a tremendous group, obviously, with a record of winning, and I just look forward to jumping aboard, grabbing an oar and helping the club win.

On his relationship with Peter Chiarelli…
A real good professional respect and friendship. Peter [Chiarelli] has had a very similar career path in some ways, from college hockey, and law school, passed the bar, from the agent’s side … We were competitors during my time in Toronto, and Peter’s come from Ottawa to here. We had coffee back in the draft in Hartford and discussed some different things — the career path. Since then, we’ve kept in touch and been competitors but also friends and, in some ways, confidantes.

On what he has learned from his experience in Toronto…
Well, I said at the time, it’s interesting, too. I felt that they had fired a better manager than they had hired, and the five years’ experience there was invaluable in so many ways, whether it was managing a club on your own … To have that seat, have that experience — really, there’s nothing that can frankly adequately prepare for it. But you learn in so many ways. You’re managing a staff, managing an ownership group, everything from the pro side to the amateur side to the medical side to the marketing side, and so many different aspects of the organization and how to manage people and be productive. And so many aspects of the job I had performed. I felt very prepared for it. There wouldn’t be anything or anyone I’d hire [to do something] that I hadn’t done before, and I thought that was critical, but there’s really no substitute for that experience. And just learning what you can do well, other areas that you need to do better, and we certainly — on my end, I didn’t do a good enough job managing expectations and laying out where we were at, and there were different reasons for it, but the entire experience was invaluable, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

On the advantages of joining an organization that has a clear and established identity…
From the outside, and just understanding and competing against the Bruins, from Toronto, obviously, and most recently, in San Jose — just being out on the road, talking to different people who work with the team and just being around the team, I’m very familiar with them. I’ve seen them play a lot at both levels — the NHL and the American League — and there’s a real core sense of what it is they’re trying to do on the ice, what players are going to fit in that group, and great strength from the goaltender to the defense, and how they play and how they attack up the ice. It’s evident in their game structure, in their game, and the success they’ve demonstrated with it. And anyone in the league would tell you the same. The level of commitment they have to their system — they’ve got skill, they’ve got size, they’ve got speed, they defend very well and stay out of the box. They do so many things well, and it’s evident in the year they’ve had, the past number of years going back at least five years — it’s very evident.

On what he learned from his time with the San Jose Sharks…
Without question, my six years in San Jose, there was a lot of winning. I think we were second in the league in total points in that span. We had a Presidents’ Trophy, a couple of Western Conference Finals, the best one, two, three, four, five, six-year runs in the history of the Sharks. We did lose two Game 7’s in the last couple of years — to L.A., Chicago in the Western Final, Vancouver one year in the Final, the year Boston won it. And the ability to sustain success over time is really something I can pull from San Jose, and the work of Doug Wilson and that group. To recognize when it’s time to turn things over and bring in some youth and add some speed and energy — those are the things that really served us well. And there were a couple of years there where it looked like it was dropping off a little bit. And last year, with the additions of [Tomas] Hertl and [Matthew] Nieto, and the evolution of [Marc-Edouard] Vlasic, and [Justin] Braun, and [Joe] Pavelski, and [Logan] Couture — there’s a real growth on the fly, and to have sustained success over time, it requires that.

On how he plans to adjust to joining a management group like the one in Boston…
You approach it by observing and not opening your mouth too much early on. Really, just to observe, and learn, and obviously have some answers when you ask questions. Certainly, through this period, they’ve done all their work preparing for this weekend, and I’m just getting up to speed, getting to know everyone and certainly will contribute when asked and have done so, and look forward to doing more of that. Frankly, in many ways, it’s a great challenge. It’s a challenge I embrace, but the margin for true success here is very tight because of the recent success and the capability that’s around here.

On his plans for the next few months…
We’ll get through here this weekend, obviously. We’ll prepare for what’s coming up in free agency, and some players that are going to be re-signed, and development camp will come shortly thereafter, and the rookie tournaments will be right around the corner.

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