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Chiarelli: Bruins 'believed we'd had a deal' for Iginla

by Matt Kalman

BOSTON -- Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli demands grit and determination out of his players regardless of how great an amount of adversity they’re facing.

The longtime GM had to subscribe to the same never-say-die attitude Thursday morning as he dealt with the ramifications of Jarome Iginla's decision to be traded from the Calgary Flames to the Pittsburgh Penguins rather than to Boston.

Chiarelli explained that around noon Wednesday he was told by Flames GM Jay Feaster that the Bruins had "won the sweepstakes" for Iginla’s services among teams that were on a list. Reportedly there were four teams Iginla, who has a no-trade clause, would agree to join.

"We believed that we'd had a deal," Chiarelli said.

The process of acquiring Iginla, according to Chiarelli, started weeks ago with the Bruins’ first inquiries. Earlier this week, the Bruins made a firm offer of a 2013 first-round draft pick, and prospects Matt Bartkowski and Alexander Khokhlachev. After Feaster informed Chiarelli of the news at noon Wednesday, and the teams decided to scratch all the players involved, Chiarelli said he did not hear back from Feaster again until just before midnight. That’s when Feaster revealed Iginla had opted for Pittsburgh over Boston.

"There’s a high and then a real low. You get used to it," Chiarelli said during a TD Garden press conference he held in an effort to be transparent about Boston’s pursuit of Iginla. "This kind of stuff happens all the time. It shouldn’t, but it does. And the reality of no-move and no-trade clauses, it’s going to happen more. It’s a disappointment, but you get back on your horse and you go out there and you find some more players."

Chiarelli said he had requested an opportunity to speak with Iginla, but was denied permission. While he would not reveal details of what was said, Chiarelli acknowledged Feaster was apologetic about how the situation unfolded.

In a separate press conference, Iginla told the media in Calgary that the chance to play with two of the world’s greatest players -- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin -- was too good to pass up. Chiarelli also thought that the Penguins’ 13-game winning streak, which has them on top of the Eastern Conference, also played a part. The Bruins have been inconsistent of late and finished a 1-0-1 homestand after a 1-3-0 road trip.

"I think that [Pittsburgh], and God bless them because I like [GM] Ray Shero and the whole group there, [Pittsburgh] has been on this amazing run and we’ve been in and out a little bit lately," Chiarelli said. "We’re a very good team. And I think as the wind blows in the last couple days, that’s how it goes."

Now Chiarelli’s hand has been tipped. He thinks he has a "very good" team, but he was willing to part with assets to add a Hall of Fame-caliber player. Although he said he’s committed to improving his team, he’s still confident that without an Iginla-level talent or even some minor additions his team could still win a second Stanley Cup in three years.

"So the ultimate goal, if it’s winning the Cup, I’m confident we’re a serious contender," Chiarelli said. "I think we can win with our team, but I think we have to be improved. There’s a lot of luck involved. You have to have everyone clicking. … We have an ability to add players, but it’s been the hardest I’ve ever seen it in my years just because they’re in short supply."

The trade deadline isn’t until April 3, so Chiarelli will continue to scour the market for players who can help the Bruins, who woke up Friday fourth in the Eastern Conference with 46 points.

"There’s players out there. We’re in on players and there’s always other players," Chiarelli said. "That was a good player; that was a real good player. There’s always other players. And the circumstances change a little bit as far as from the cap perspective. It’s going down [next season]. So you have to look at … it makes rentals a little more valuable for a group of teams, including ourselves. So you have to be a little bit more creative. Then you have to open up your decision process to more things."

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