BOSTON – Even though his players have “enjoyed” a measure of R&R since being eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli remains very busy and recently returned from the IIHF World Championships in Finland where he also served as assistant GM of Team Canada.
But Chiarelli wasn’t the only member of the Bruins organization in Europe for the tournament.
“[Zdeno Chara] was playing with Slovakia, and he was in [Team Canada’s tournament pool] in Helsinki so I saw a lot of him,” said Chiarelli from his office in TD Garden. “His dressing room was down the hall from ours and I was able to talk to him a lot.
“I think he started a little slow at first, just watching him I could tell he had difficulty I think mentally and physically getting ready to play that tournament. It’s a long, rigorous tournament where, at least, you play every other day, but there are back-to-backs so you’re playing for a solid 12-13 days.
“He picked up momentum.”
The surging Chara also picked up a silver medal with the surprising Slovaks.
“He was a leader of their team,” said Chiarelli of the Slovakian captain. “They beat [Team Canada] out. He had a real good game against us, and they ended up losing in the gold medal match, so they did great and he did great.
Bruins center David Krejci also played in the World Championships and earned a bronze medal with the Czech squad.
“Krech was on the other pool in Stockholm so I wasn’t able to see him live,” said Chairelli, who kept tabs of his forward via television. “I saw a couple of his games, and the Czechs had a real good tournament.
“They made it to the semifinal. They beat out the Swedes in Stockholm, so that was a big game, and…he had a terrific goal, a terrific shot over the shoulder.”
Boston’s third entry into the tournament, goaltending prospect Lars Volden, played one game for his native Norway, but fell to the Russia.
“He played very well,” said Chiarelli. “He had 38 saves against the Russians, who won the gold medal.
“A very promising, good, big goaltender that had a strong game.
“He’ll be playing in the Swedish Elite League next year and he’s a very good prospect for us,” said the GM.
Chiarelli returned to the United States to learn that Zane Gothberg, another of Boston’s goaltending prospects shared goaltender of the year honors in the USHL. However, despite the young goalie’s happy-go-lucky attitude, the GM wasn’t surprised to see Gothberg take home some hardware.
“He’s been at a bunch of our camps and he’s a real bit of a jokester, but each camp he’s gotten more mature,” said Chiarelli. “He had a terrific year in the USHL. His stats were great and he had a good playoff stretch, and he’s going to North Dakota next year and I suspect he’ll challenge for the number one spot there and it’s a terrific program.
“He had a great World Junior Challenge out in [British Columbia] earlier on in the year where they play all the other nations.
“He had a terrific year and he’s a big kid, like Volden, and certainly will be in our plans in the near future.”
Even though he’s returned from the Worlds and has relinquished his duties for Team Canada (for a little while), Chiarelli’s schedule remains tight going into the summer.
“Well, we have the Scouting Combine coming up in Toronto next week,” said Chiarelli. “The first part of the week they bring in the European players, second part of the week it’s the North American players.
“We interview them for 10-15 minutes. We end up doing about 70-80 interviews in four days, and then the last part of the week there’s physical testing and our strength and conditioning coach, John Whitesides, will be down there…to watch how these kids test -- it’s one thing to look at the actual results, but it’s another thing to look at how they test -- so they’ll be doing that.
“Then, we have our amateur meetings following that, and we’ll have them in Boston,” continued Chiarelli. “We’ll bring all our amateur scouts in for three or four days.
“After that, it’s just tweaking the list a little bit, and having a final meeting, probably the Wednesday or Thursday before the draft.”