Chara and Chiarelli discuss the captain's new contract

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Chara and Chiarelli discuss the captain's new contract

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

PRAGUE -- Zdeno Chara wanted contract negotiations done by the time the regular season started. It came down to the wire, but he got his wish.

The blueliner agreed to a 7-year, 45.5 million extension on the morning of Boston's season opener. This contract and the extension of Patrice Bergeron are huge in terms of the Bruins locking down their future.

Boston's captain was never worried.

"I was very confident, positive about getting this deal done before the season.''

"As soon as I arrived in Boston with general manager Peter Chiarelli, that was my goal; to establish this team and become contenders, and obviously I want to be a big part of it,'' Chara said. "It's a very solid organization. I'm very proud to be a Bruin. I feel very comfortable around the whole team and coaching staff, management and players.

"My first priority and goal was to stay in Boston,'' he repeated. "I'm very thankful to the Jacobs family, Peter, team president Cam Neely and all the players.''

Chiarelli was happy to return the compliment. He said Saturday the organization was merely executing the obvious.

"It was obviously very important for both parties," said Chiarelli. "From our perspective, Chara and Bergeron are two very important pieces of our team, very important individuals. There's uncertainty as the season progresses as far as trying to retain these types of players as they get closer to the free market. You never know what's going to happen.''

This uncertainty, coupled with the yearn to keep Chara in Black and Gold, created an atmosphere of fair play in the negotiations.

"It's an extreme showing of good faith from both sides to get it done now,'' Chiarelli said. "It's a typical thing; when both sides want something, it usually happens. We had made enough progress, had enough significant discussions. At the end, both sides gave a little to get it done.''

Gently bending wills isn't much trouble when an organization thinks so highly of its prize. And the Bruins only see potential in the already successful 33-year old.

"He's probably the hardest-working person I've seen on and off the ice. He leads by example,'' Chiarelli said. "He's still growing as a player and he'll probably play beyond this next contract. It's our pleasure to extend him and we're happy to have him for many more years.''

There was one minor snag. But it actually didn't have anything to do with Chara himself.

Blame 27-year old Ilya Kovalchuk.

The league put it's foot down on "lifetime" deals this offseason by rejecting the proposed 17-year, 102 million contract agreed upon by Kovalchuk and the Devils. The NHL's worry that player and team would so blatantly try to circumvent the salary cap spurned an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement to halt such deals.

Chiarelli admitted that it wasn't something the Bruins could ignore.

"Certainly it was something that we looked at,'' he said. "When you go into the longer term you have to see how that ruling will impact your negotiations. But this is a seven-year deal, it's a long time and we're happy to have Zee for that long.''

Since Chara's extension will take him through his 40th birthday he has a cap hit of 6.917 million in the first six years. He will receive 4 million in the last season.

Chara acknowledged the Kovalchuk impact . It just didn't faze him at all.

"Obviously, his situation was a little extreme, maybe put the negotiations on hold for a little bit,'' Chara said. "But I just knew that we would get this done and I would be a Bruin.''

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.