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Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bruins Hire Chiarelli

Bruins Hire Chiarelli
by James Murphy

For a team that’s not in the playoffs, the Bruins were in the headlines quite a bit this past week. Unfortunately, for them and their fans it was for all the wrong reasons. On Friday, Boston finally ended their search for a new General Manager, officially announcing the hiring of Peter Chiarelli, who is the current Assistant General Manager for the Ottawa Senators.

But the hiring came after a turbulent week that saw the team miss out on another candidate, quite possibly because of the power issues that have plagued them for so long and led to their recent demise.

In their quest to find a new General Manager and turn their fortunes around, Boston once again left many in the hockey world scratching their heads when they couldn’t come to terms with Ray Shero, who according to multiple sources, was ready to take the reigns as the Bruins’ seventh GM. Shero ended up changing his mind, and on Thursday he took the same job with the Pittsburgh Penguins, leaving many to ask, “what happened?”

According to one source, the talks with Shero fell apart when Bruins Executive Vice President Charlie Jacobs, who has headed the GM search, insisted that current interim GM Jeff Gorton, be kept on as the new GM’s assistant. Shero apparently couldn’t make that promise, telling Jacobs that he might need to “bring in his own men.”

The Bruins apparently didn’t waste anytime crying over losing out on Shero, however, as Thursday night reported that the Bruins had hired Chiarelli and on Friday, the team made an official announcement. Ottawa and Boston agreed on a deal that would send either a second or third round draft pick, in either 2007, 2008, or 2009 to the Senators in exchange for Chiarelli. Also as part of the agreement, Chiarelli will remain with the Senators until July 15.

But as the aforementioned source pointed out last night, though Chiarelli is coming to Boston and he is a “terrific” hire, there still may be bumps in the road ahead. By no means, is this the fresh start the team had hoped for, in an effort to bring the organization back to respectability within the league, with media and with their fans.

“Don’t be surprised if he runs into the power struggle Shero didn’t want to take the chance of running into,” the source told INSIDE HOCKEY.

“The bottom-line here is that the Jacobs still want to control everything and have a final say on signings and trades. They couldn’t give the power to Shero, so why all of a sudden will they give it to Chiarelli?

Chiarelli is a very good choice but he will want to run the show like Shero did, so that may create a problem. If not now, probably later when things go sour again like they did with [Mike] O’Connell.”

Owner Jeremy Jacobs told Friday that contrary to reports like the aforementioned claims by this source, that part of any deal with the new GM, was retaining Gorton, the Bruins simply told both Shero and Chiarelli that they hoped Gorton could be kept on “in some valuable capacity”. But this source claims that was not entirely true and that Charlie Jacobs, has maintained a stance that Gorton remain throughout negotiations with “not only Shero and Chiarelli, but with other candidates too.”

If this source’s claims and assessments are accurate, and there’s no reason to believe they’re not, then the team that has fallen below irrelevance on the Boston sports landscape, has an even steeper hill to climb. From the sounds of it, the Jacobs regime is maintaining a good deal of autonomy with regards to player and coaching personnel decisions and unless Chiarelli is truly content with that, there will be power struggles ahead for the Bruins.

Of course, by no means can anyone guarantee such struggles but based on the way the team basically threw O’Connell under the bus, what makes one think they won’t do the same with Chiarelli when times get tough?

The insistence that the new GM keep Gorton on board as his Assistant GM is also extremely baffling. As this source pointed out:

“If they’re so hell-bent on keeping him, then why not hire him as GM in the first place?”

But instead the Bruins lost out on Shero and possibly others, surrender a draft pick and can’t have their new guy in place until after the draft and free agency starts. Obviously, the Bruins think highly enough of Gorton that they would allow all of this to happen. So how did all of this make sense?

For those familiar with the Bruins, this whole week somehow makes too much sense. For them, “It’s called Bruins”!



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