Haggerty: Chiarelli extension well-deserved

Haggerty: Chiarelli extension well-deserved
August 30, 2013, 9:00 am
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So, what exactly is the just reward for building a shambles of a pro hockey organization into a championship hockey club that’s become a perennial Stanley Cup contender?

It’s the right to continue as architect for said hockey team for as long as he wants, and that’s exactly what Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli will get after agreeing to terms on a four-year extension with Boston.

Bruins President Cam Neely made the announcement on Thursday afternoon, and ensures that their winning management team of Chiarelli, along with assistant general managers Don Sweeney and Jim Benning, will remain together for the foreseeable future.

Chiarelli still has one year left on his contract for the 2013-14 season, and four more additional years will take him through the 2017-18 season at the helm of the Black and Gold. The Bruins have qualified for the playoffs in six of the seven seasons since Chiarelli was hired as GM in 2006, and have reached the Stanley Cup Finals in two of the last three seasons as a young nucleus of players have developed into a championship quality core.

Chiarelli’s Bruins have a 50-35 record in the playoffs in his tenure, and the team’s 54 games played the last three postseasons are 10 games more than the next team during that same span (Los Angeles, 44). His first move to lure B’s captain Zdeno Chara to Boston via unrestricted free agency has been paying dividends for the last seven seasons, and it’s been on an upward swing ever since.

In his tenure, the Bruins have had five 90-plus point seasons, including three 100+ point campaigns. In the 2008-09 campaign, the Bruins compiled a 53-19-4 record, giving them 116 points on the year, which was good for third-best in team history. That same year, the 49-year-old GM was honored by the Sporting News as NHL Executive of the Year.

Trades for players such as Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell and Dennis Seidenberg over the past four seasons have helped augment an already strong young nucleus of players, and dealing Phil Kessel to Toronto helped ensure continued success for Boston with the arrival of young talents such as Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. Seguin was subsequently moved to Dallas earlier this summer, of course, but brought back a return of Swedish All-Star forward Loui Eriksson.

Perhaps the biggest achievement of Chiarelli, Sweeney, Benning and coach Claude Julien, however, has been the extremely successful development of young players such as Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask. Those players have become NHL household names and Stanley Cup champions over the past three years.

Even more miraculously, Chiarelli has been able to hold together that group of establishing B’s players through some rough salary cap waters. Horton, Andrew Ference, Rich Peverley and Seguin all had to make their exits from Boston this summer amid a dropping salary cap ceiling, but the Bruins were still able to protect the bulk of their roster.

The success with the Bruins has also enhanced and broadened Chiarelli’s reputation around the NHL in his first gig running an NHL franchise. The Boston GM and former Harvard University hockey player is among a handpicked braintrust running the show for Team Canada’s Olympic hockey team.

Chiarelli earned a degree in economics and played hockey at Harvard from 1983-87, where he served as team captain.  In his time with the Crimson, the Ottawa native notched 21 goals and 28 assists for 49 points with 70 penalty minutes in 109 career games. Chiarelli attained his law degree from the University of Ottawa and was admitted to the Ontario bar in 1993.

Prior to joining the Bruins in 2006, Chiarelli spent seven seasons with the Ottawa Senators, five as the Director of Legal Relations and two as the Assistant GM.