BostonBruins.com - Peter Chiarelli is heading into his eighth season as the General Manager of the Boston Bruins. He's only the seventh person in club history to ever be given that title, and he'll be keeping it for at least another five years, as B's President Cam Neely announced a contract extension on Thursday that keeps Chiarelli overseeing the Black & Gold's hockey operations through the 2017-18 season.
Chiarelli has been the Bruins' GM since the summer of 2006 and with him at the helm, the Bruins have made the playoffs in the past six seasons, including the organization's first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011 and a second Final appearance in 2013.
Only two other B's General Managers - Art Ross and Milt Schmidt - have brought the Cup to Boston.
The GM's last extension was a multi-year deal he received in the June of 2009 that would have kept him in place through 2013-14.
Chiarelli's strategy has been to maintain consistency, but not complacency, in the lineup. Since Cam Neely was named President of the club in June 2010, the B's management and coaching staff has remained consistent as well, and has anchored a strong core group of players. Last summer, the Bruins announced a multi-year contract extension for Claude Julien, and it's no secret that the pair of Julien and Chiarelli have worked well together through the years.
Neely has recognized that. When speaking with reporters during his final press conference of the season after the Final, he noted the GM has done a "fantastic job" since he's been here.
"There's been a lot of player, personnel turnover, but we've kept the right guys and built from that."
"It’s easy to spend to the cap; it’s harder to spend it the right way," Neely had said. "That’s the job that Peter’s done well and we do get the blessing to do what we need to do to get the best team on the ice."
During his season-ending press conference in June, Chiarelli went on about the unique combination of composure and intensity that defines his Coach's style - and the Bruins' identity - and the stability he provides the players.That same energy and intensity defines the GM's style as well.
Under his leadership, the Bruins have assumed the identity of a team that is "tough to play against" - a gritty, physical group that plays with speed, and exhibits high character on and off the ice.
As a GM, Chiarelli has worked constantly to balance patience and timing - having the ability to wait, while executing the ability to also act quickly on the spot.
The crowning moment thus far came in 2011, when he either re-signed or acquired through draft, trade or free agency, every player on the B's Cup team.
Working with the scouting, management and coaching staffs, the B's boss has helped identify the right personnel at the NHL level in Boston, while overseeing the development of the B's pipeline through Providence. Although homegrown talent is the focus, he's never been shy about finding the right players throughout whichever route necessary.
And as the roster heading into the 2013-14 shows, Chiarelli's vision has not only come from acquiring players to fit the B's mold through trade and free agency, but almost more importantly, re-signing and maintaining a solid core group to build the team around for future contention.
"That’s my mandate - I would expect to ice a team or build a team that would be a perennial contender every year," Chiarelli said during his season-ending availability, on what he envisions for the core moving forward. "That doesn’t change."
"There’s a challenge with the lower cap [and] we're no different than anyone else," he added. "But we feel confident that if we have to move a player or two or not sign somebody, we feel confident with the core we have that we’ll be able to find players or have players in the mix already that can fill that spot."
This summer and over the past few years, Chiarelli has re-signed members of that core, including Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Zdeno Chara, to long-term contracts.
As a result, the General Manager has earned buy-in from his players throughout his tenure.
"You have to definitely trust Peter," Bergeron said at the end of the 2012-13 season, when asked about the reshaping of the roster. "He’s done a great job over the years, and I’m sure he’s going to do the same thing again."
Chiarelli's players also trust that they'll be rewarded for their solid, consistent performances. When Bergeron was given an extension of his own in July, knowing he would be with a contending team for years made it that much easier for him to remain in Boston long-term.
"One of the primary reasons I wanted to stay for such a long time is because of all the core guys and all of my teammates," he said. "We have a great team, a competitive team every year."
There are many factors that play into that -- and Chiarelli is at the core.