Boston Bruins Part Ways With Peter Chiarelli

Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli was fired on Wednesday by the club after missing the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons.

Jeremy Jacobs, left, and team president Cam Neely
The Stanley Cup Championship of 2011 was far from Cam Neely’s (right) mind after firing Chiarelli on Wednesday. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

All other current staff, including head coach Claude Julien, will remain with the Bruins “at this time”, per Boston’s press release Wednesday morning.

Team president Cam Neely thanked Chiarelli for his service but also recognized it was time for a change.

“We are grateful for Peter’s service to the Bruins organization over the last nine seasons. His efforts undoubtedly helped the team achieve great success during his tenure and he helped restore the proud tradition of Boston Bruins Hockey.”

“We ultimately feel that this change is necessary to ensure sustainable success for the club both in the short-term and long-term.”

It is amazing to think the Bruins could rapidly regress from Stanley Cup Finalists (2013), to Presidents Trophy winners (2014), to out of the playoffs (2015) so quickly.

How could this happen?

Bad Contracts To The “Core”

The “core” which Chiarelli spoke highly of could not sustain the performances that earned them new contracts. Chris Kelly is Exhibit A signing a four-year, $12 million contact with a no-trade clause after a career-high 20-goal season in 2011-12. In the 171 games since then, the 34-year-old veteran has failed to replicate that scoring just 19 times.

Milan Lucic, who could be the subject of trade rumors this summer, has one year left on his three-year, $18 million contract. The 26-year-old forward is coming off his lowest full-season point total since 2009-10 and admitted on Monday he was “overly conscious” about being physical after the well-publicized events that took place after Boston’s elimination from the postseason at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.

Recent Trade History

The biggest blemish on Chiarelli’s record is the trade of Tyler Seguin. The former Plymouth Whalers forward was destined to be a star in Boston, but his off-ice behavior played a large part in the 2013 trade that sent Seguin to Dallas for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser (now with Edmonton), and prospect Joe Morrow. The return Chiarelli got for the second-overall pick in 2010 enraged fans more than the trade itself.

Since the deal, Seguin has averaged over a point-per-game with the Stars. His 37 goals this season could have been useful to an offense that ranked 22nd in the league.

As a result of being pinned up against the salary cap prior to this year, Chiarelli dealt away fan-favorite defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders for a trio of draft picks. The 31-year-old blueliner went on to record career-highs in goals (9), assists (26), points (35), and ice time (21:41/game) in his first season on Long Island. The Bruins back-end failed to offer a sufficient replacement for Boychuk as his presence was sorely missed this season.

All Is Not Lost…

Chiarelli’s tenure in Boston should not entirely regarded as a failure. When he assumed the role of general manager in May 2006, the Bruins were the laughingstock of the league after finishing with the fifth-worst record in the league the previous year.

Chiarelli was at the helm when Boston traded for Tuukka Rask in 2006. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
Chiarelli was at the helm when Boston traded for Tuukka Rask in 2006. (Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)

It took some time, but he found his footing and began to slowly build Boston into a contender. About a month after he was hired, he pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Andrew Raycroft (remember him?) to Toronto for Tuukka Rask, who is now the club’s franchise goaltender. He acquired players in Mark Recchi, Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly, Dennis Seidenberg, and Andrew Ference that were all a part of the Stanley Cup championship side in 2011.

Chiarelli drafted Dougie Hamilton in 2011 and David Pastrnak last summer, both as first-round picks. Both players showed their potential as cornerstone pieces for the Bruins going forward as they aim to add speed up front with size and youth on the back end.

In the course of his time on Causeway Street, he resurrected a Bruins franchise that was mired in mediocrity and took them to the Promised Land in five years, only to be at the helm of their demise four years later.

What Next?

As Neely and Charlie Jacobs begin their search for a GM, the fate of Julien remains in the balance. The former Bruin power forward said the following with regards to Boston’s coach:

“We told him that we really believe that once we go through the exhaustive search to find the next general manager, we will leave it up to that GM to decide what he wants to do on our coaching staff.”

After the disappointment of this season, changes are coming in Boston. Peter Chiarelli’s departure is the first major shoe to drop in what plans to be a busy summer on Causeway Street.