Chiarelli putting his stamp on B's

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:08 AM ET

Being named GM of the Boston Bruins last summer was a dream come true for Peter Chiarelli.

But, since assuming the post, he admits it's been a bit of a nightmare.

"I'd be lying to you if I said there hasn't been some sleepless nights since I took this job," Chiarelli, an Ottawa native, said yesterday as he made his way to his office in Boston.

"It can be difficult at times, but it's also been exciting. What I'm trying to do is implement my plan and I knew that was going to take some time. We have to keep working on becoming a team. We're not a team yet. We're getting there."

The former Senators assistant GM said the day he accepted the challenge of rebuilding the Bruins, he had to change "the culture" of the organization. He was given carte-blanche by owner Jeremy Jacobs and president Charlie Jacobs.

TEAM WAS A MESS

Chiarelli arrived to a team that was in disarray. Before being fired, former GM Mike O'Connell did a lot of damage -- especially with the horrible decision to trade NHL MVP Joe Thornton to San Jose last November.

That meant Chiarelli was in charge of damage control. His first order of business was to get rid of coach Mike Sullivan, who simply no longer had the attention of his players.

"There were changes that had to be made," said Chiarelli. "We had 29 wins last year."

While Chiarelli spoke with former Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn, the club's hired Detroit coach Dave Lewis, who was likely the best man available.

The Bruins decided to be aggressive in free agency in an attempt to get out of their doldrums. The biggest signing was former Senators defenceman Zdeno Chara to a five-year, $37.5-million (all terms US) contract on July 1, along with adding former Atlanta centre Marc Savard with a four-year, $20-million deal.

Calgary's Shean Donovan was also brought in (It's interesting that the first three guys signed as free agents have Ottawa connections: Chara, ex-Senator; Savard, Orleans native; Donovan, former 67).

Once training camp got going, Chiarelli and Lewis decided to name Chara Boston's captain. He was the obvious choice for the Bruins because he's the centrepiece by virtue of his contract and is well respected by his teammates.

"I know Chara is a minus-player (minus-6 heading into play last night), but our team as a total is a minus," said Chiarelli. "It's going to take some time. He's been fine. He's been playing 30 minutes a game and he's a guy who leads by example.

"Nobody works harder than Zdeno Chara. I believe (his work ethic) has rubbed off well on the other people in our dressing room. They see what he's doing, the way he's working and they want to get the job done as well. He had a leadership role in Ottawa and we felt he was the best man for the job."

While all the changes have not resulted in immediate success, Chiarelli is confident things will turn around.

Chiarelli said he hasn't tried actively to trade winger Glen Murray, but it's believed teams have called to check on his availability. Right now, the GM is resisting more change.

"I like to use the example of the Anaheim Ducks: When they made changes in Anaheim two years ago, they struggled coming out of the gate and then played strong the rest of the year," said Chiarelli.

"I'm not saying we're the Ducks by any sense of the imagination, but I know when you make the number of changes that we made that it takes some time to get everybody on the same page. We're going in that direction."

As a result of a protest by Senators owner Eugene Melnyk -- who claimed the Bruins tampered with Chiarelli -- he wasn't able to start officially with the club until early July.

SCOURED SCHEDULE

The minute the NHL schedule came out, Chiarelli searched for the club's first game against the Senators. Sure, he's got a lot of friends in Ottawa, but tomorrow is about two points in the Northeast Division.

"I looked it up right away and I'm sure (Chara) did as well," said Chiarelli. "We're looking forward to it, but also aware that they are a pretty potent team."

NO PERREAULT: Senators GM John Muckler confirmed a Sun report that he has called off talks with unrestricted free-agent C Yanic Perreault. "I just have a lot of questions and I'm not sure that's the right move at this time," said Muckler.


Videos

Photos