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Is This Goodbye?

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA -- From the moment Chris Kelly slipped on a Black & Gold sweater, the veteran center made himself an integral part of the Boston Bruins.

Kelly leaving TD Garden on Friday.

But after he cleaned out his locker stall in the TD Garden, the forward wasn't sure about the future. An unrestricted free agent as of July 1, Kelly could very well find himself in a different uniform next season.

"I truly do like it here," said Kelly. "I know some guys just say that, but everything about Boston has been a pleasant surprise from the team, the coaching staff, the management and obviously the city.

"I didn’t know anything about Boston coming here midseason last year other than visiting the city when I played," explained Kelly. "My wife and I and our family love it here.

"It’s a great city."

However, Kelly picked a great time to wow New England with the best statistical season of his NHL career and there could be plenty of suitors for his services going into the 2012-13 campaign.

"We obviously have some guys to consider whether we sign them or not," said General Manager Peter Chiarelli of his offseason strategy. "From the makeover perspective, certainly we’re not going to do anything to makeover this team.

"You hear me talk about the parity in this league and our first round loss in seven games this year can be another Stanley Cup Final next year – it’s that close.

"You saw the number of teams in the West – you kind of see the new four teams in the West and you see some different teams in the East so you just have to be prepared [to compete]."

So, competition for Kelly's services might mean Bruins fans might need to be prepared to see the center return to Causeway Street with another squad. But Kelly remains optimistic that things will work out with the Bruins.

"I’d hope so," said Kelly. "I seem to be a guy who’s class is half-full as opposed to half-empty in that way.

"So, yeah, hopefully get something done."

However, Kelly remained professional in his outlook and said that he'd keep an open mind.

"I think I’ll always weigh every option, every possibility," said Kelly. "That’s my job as a player and as a guy with a young family -- that’s my responsibility.

"But, you know, I think if we can get something done here I’d like to stay here," said Kelly. "This a great team, great organization and I know being on a good winning hockey team is an important thing to me and it always has been."

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