Chara and Chiarelli discuss the captain's new contract


Chara and Chiarelli discuss the captain's new contract

By Mary Paoletti

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 Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season. 

Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?


Monday, Oct. 24: Bergeron the best defensive forward ever?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while giving The Walking Dead credit for delivering a pile driver to me as a TV viewer last night. I did not see all of that coming.

*Plenty of questions and answers about the Calgary Flames as they’ve looked a little shaky in the early going this season.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has the Edmonton Oilers straightening things out after the brutal loss to Buffalo.

*NHL captains like Steve Stamkos carry the heavy weight of tradition on their shoulders as they go about their business.

*The Hockey News wonders if Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward to ever play in the NHL. I’m certain he’s in the conversation, but that’s a big, bold statement that deserves some heavy consideration. After all, he never had to defend Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Mike Bossy, Gordie Howe or any other number of offensive stars. I certainly think he should be in the select club he would join if/when he wins his fourth Selke Trophy.

*Minnesota D-man Matt Dumba was nearly scratched by the Minnesota Wild, and he says that he’s never going to let that happen again.

*The Anaheim Ducks placed Simon Despres on long term injured reserve as they try to stay afloat salary cap-wise, and avoid dealing off a player in-season.

*For something completely different: The Boston Celtics break ground on a new practice facility adjacent to the new Bruins place.