By firing Peter Chiarelli, the message that Boston Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs and President Cam Neely sent should be clear.
Only, it’s not. So allow me to try and figure this one out.
First thing’s first, Chiarelli had a bad year. He refused to bring back Shawn Thornton, referencing the need for more skill on the fourth line, only, he never added more skill. Then he traded a top-four defenseman in Johnny Boychuk for draft picks before the season began. And he ended the year by overpaying Reilly Smith with a two-year, $6.85 million contract extension, while the team’s biggest issue is salary-cap related.
The Bruins are missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2006-07. As of right now, Chiarelli is the one seemingly taking the heat for that. But as Jacobs and Neely tried to explain themselves at Wednesday’s press conference, all they did was refuse to get into specifics, as to why the team is now looking for a new general manager.
But I have a theory. And I’m convinced of it.
Neely asked Chiarelli to fire the Bruins’ coach, Claude Julien. And when Chiarelli refused to do so, he lost his own job. That was the so-called “tipping point.”
Jacobs and Neely say they never “interfered” with Chiarelli’s moves as the GM. But let’s be serious, they’ve always had the power to. And when it comes to trading a No. 2 overall pick in Tyler Seguin, or even a top-four defenseman in Boychuk, those things have to be OK’d from the top.
To think that Neely wasn’t on-board with Chiarelli’s trades, or even his contracts to current players who are now being called “overpaid” by those outside the organization is insane.
In fact, other than the team’s trade-deadline strategy this year, it sounded like Neely and Chiarelli were on the same page about many of the major moves that have been made in the past. But maybe, just maybe, this isn’t about Chiarelli. Perhaps this is all about Julien.
Neely referenced the need to improve how the Bruins implement younger players when up against the salary cap. And if he’s telling the GM to hold onto those younger “assets” at the trade deadline, which he said he did, then he clearly sees it as a developmental issue. And that’s where the coach comes in.
You see, the GM messed up, sure. But the President was with him every step of the way. So when you then fire the GM, and don’t have many details to go along with it, you make us read between the lines.
And the way I read it, it seems quite simple. Neely wants a new coach. And if his GM won’t take care of that for him, Neely will bring someone in who will.
Glad we cleared that up.