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

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering if the Bruins are ever going to poop, or get off the pot.
 
*John Tortorella wants everybody to know that he thinks there isn’t a chance that Lebron James could play hockey.
 
*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my radio hit with Toucher and Rich this morning about whether or not Claude Julien should be fired after back-to-back bad losses against the Islanders and Red Wings.
 
*How did Shane Doan arrive at an unhappy place with the Arizona Coyotes where he now is open to moving elsewhere ahead of the trade deadline?
 
*Henrik Lundqvist’s season is entering a crisis level based on what he’s done, and the diminished performance level he’s showing as a more mature goaltender.
 
*A nice piece with a Canadian hockey hero, Hayley Wickenheiser, who recounts some of the legendary moments of her career through a series of pictures.
 
*I totally respect the work that Travis Yost does, but stating the Bruins should stick with Claude Julien because their shooting percentage is bound to turn around isn’t good enough grounds to keep a floundering situation intact, in my opinion. You need to check where the shots are coming from and how many of those shot attempts are completely missing the net to get a better grasp on some of the reasons behind Boston’s dreadful 10-year low shooting percentage. That would also explain some of the reason why Julien needs to be replaced coaching a team that’s largely content on perimeter shots to do it for them while also only sporadically showing the effort required from a middle class talent type of team.

*The Lightning are struggling at Joe Namath levels right now without Steve Stamkos in their lineup, and they need that to change.
 
*For something completely different: congrats to the Boston boys in New Edition for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.