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Bruins extend GM Chiarelli's contract

by John McGourty
Pleased with the direction his team has taken, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs rewarded General Manager Peter Chiarelli with a four-year contract extension Tuesday. Chiarelli had a year remaining on the original four-year deal he signed in 2006, meaning that he is under contract to the Bruins through the 2014-15 season.

The Bruins have trended steadily upward since Chiarelli was named GM on July 8, 2006. The team missed the playoffs in his first season, despite improving two points in the standings. They improved 18 points in 2007-08, to a 41-29-12 record that was good for 94 points, a third-place finish in the Northeast Division and their first Stanley Cup Playoff berth since 2004.

The Bruins had a breakout year in 2008-09, going 53-19-10 for 116 points and first place in both the Northeast Division and the Eastern Conference. They came within one point of the San Jose Sharks' 117 points in the race for the Presidents' Trophy.

The Bruins led the NHL in fewest goals allowed with 196, and their plus-78 goal differential was the best in the League. They led the Eastern Conference with 274 goals, second in the NHL to the Detroit Red Wings' 295 goals.

Boston defeated its archrival, the Montreal Canadiens, in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and then, as injuries mounted, took the Carolina Hurricanes to overtime in Game 7 of the conference semifinal.

The Bruins are 129-89-28 record (.581) in Chiarelli's three seasons running the show.

Jacobs was joined by his son, Charlie, a member of the team's senior leadership, and Chiarelli at Tuesday's news conference.

"I'd like to thank Charlie and Mr. Jacobs, specifically, for this extension," Chiarelli said. "I'm very happy to remain in Boston and work for the Boston Bruins and, generally, for the way they have allowed me to manage. From the very beginning until now, when you are a manager and you have to make hundreds of decisions a day, you really appreciate the support from ownership when it comes to doing certain things.

"Believe me, there are a lot of decisions that are made, and there are a lot of decisions made not to do things that you don't hear about. It makes things a lot easier. From where you have seen the team grow the past few years, I think that speaks volumes about the ownership.

"I know (Jeremy) and Charlie expect results and that's what we are going to give them. Nothing is guaranteed in life but I'm happy here and I want to be here for a long time."

Chiarelli has put together a top-notch management team that includes Vice President Cam Neely, Director of Hockey Operations and Player Development Don Sweeney, Assistant General Manager Jim Benning, Director of Player Personnel Scott Bradley, Director of Amateur Scouting Wayne Smith, and Director of Collegiate Scouting John Weisbrod.

His first hire to coach the AHL Providence Bruins, Scott Gordon, was whisked away by the New York Islanders last summer. Current coach Rob Murray guided the P-Bruins to the AHL's second-best regular-season record. The P-Bruins are 142-77-21 record, a .635 win percentage, in the three seasons since Chiarelli took over in Boston.

Chiarelli views the contract extension as an opportunity to continue to pursue his plan for continued improvement.

"It gives the management group latitude to do things and continue on with their vision and plan," he said. "What we've tried to do since I've been here is instill certain attitudes and philosophies in the players, other employees, staff and coaches. It allows you to do that. I've seen a real increase in morale -- a heightened enthusiasm among players, coaches and the rest of the group.

"To build upon that to get where we are now and build on it even further is exciting. We are entering a new level of expectations for this team that is exciting and more demanding. We like a challenge."

"We are entering a new level of expectations for this team that is exciting and more demanding. We like a challenge." -- Peter Chiarelli
Chiarelli, a native of the Ottawa suburbs, played four seasons at Harvard University, where he obtained a degree in economics before receiving his law degree from the University of Ottawa. He spent six years as a lawyer and player agent and then joined the Ottawa Senators as director of legal relations before spending his last two seasons there as assistant general manager before coming to Boston.

Chiarelli was rewarded with the Sporting News NHL Executive of the Year award for a season that re-united a fractured fan base and generated the most local excitement since the TD Banknorth Garden opened in 1995.

In the wake of the season, Claude Julien is a candidate for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's best coach and has a two-season record of 94-48-22. Captain Zdeno Chara is a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the League's best defenseman, and Tim Thomas is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goalie, having already shared the numerically based William M. Jennings Trophy with backup Manny Fernandez for allowing the fewest goals.

"I'm the type of guy who likes to sit in the background a little bit. This is about the Boston Bruins and the performances of the players. It's about our last year, how we played, some of the success we had and some of the disappointments we had. I want the focus to remain on that. At the end of the day, it's about the players and how they played and the contributions that they made to the team. I just want to be clear on that."

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