The Bruins missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007, so it was probably inevitable that some big changes would be made. A team that had such high expectations of another deep run in the playoffs had to be extremely disappointed that their offseason started so much earlier than usual. At their year-end press conference on Monday, GM Peter Chiarelli and head coach Claude Julien stubbornly refused to acknowledge the obvious - that at least one of their days on Causeway Street was clearly numbered. Chiarelli, the former Harvard captain, was the first to go on Wednesday as Boston fired him after nine very successful seasons in charge of the Original Six club.
“This was a process,” said Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs Wednesday at TD Garden. “We had an ongoing dialogue and we finally made a decision regarding Peter on Tuesday. When we realized this would be in the best interest of the club, we moved forward.”
The NHL Draft Lottery takes place on Saturday, with the actual draft taking place in June and free agency beginning in July. Well before then, the Bruins will have settled on a new general manager. Now the question is whether or not Julien will coach another game for the Black and Gold?
“Once we go through the exhaustive check for the next GM,” explained Bruins President Cam Neely, “we will leave it up to that GM to decide.”
By and large, Chiarelli’s tenure was filled with winning seasons and playoff rounds (10 series wins). Under Chiarelli, the Bruins snapped their 39-year drought by winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, reached another Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and captured the Presidents’ Trophy last season (for most points in the league). All that success made it easy to paint over the cracks lying under the surface: an awful track record of draft picks, not to mention some terrible trades (Tyler Seguin and Johnny Boychuk being the prime examples), strange free agency decisions and a tendency to fall in love with his own mediocre players (Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, etc.). Eventually a season like this past one would occur.
Besides ownership that you are lucky enough to be born into, most other positions in professional sports are temporary when you really think about it. Taking over the Bruins in the poor shape that he found them in following the 2005-06 season and transforming them into a marquee franchise in the NHL again is something that Chiarelli should always be credited for.
As for the franchise going forward, it sounds like the Bruins aren’t looking to reinvent themselves overnight.
“We got away from our identity,” noted Neely. “We weren’t as tough to play against as we wanted to be.”