Chiarelli a winner

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:41 PM ET

OTTAWA - On his first day as a Stanley Cup champion, all Peter Chiarelli wanted to do was get some rest.

While the thrill of winning the NHL title with a dramatic Game 7 victory over the Canucks Wednesday night certainly hadn’t worn off, the Bruins GM was having a hard timing putting into words the sense of accomplishment.

“It certainly hasn’t sunk in yet,” Chiarelli, an Ottawa native, told the Sun from his Boston home Thursday night. “It was a long two months.”

After taking the red-eye charter home following a 4-0 victory at Rogers Arena, the Bruins were greeted by thousands of fans at the TD Bank-north Garden following a motorcade from Logan Airport.

“I tried to get some sleep, but there wasn’t a lot of sleep on that plane,” said Chiarelli, who spent the morning answering congratulatory texts and e-mails from across the hockey world.

Chiarelli, a former Senators assistant GM, arrived in Boston in the spring of 2006 with a five-year plan to turn the team into a champion. His first goal: To change the culture in Beantown.

“When you talk about a five-year plan that’s what every manager tries to put in place,” said Chiarelli. “You can’t do it overnight. You have to people in place and you have to add pieces.

“It really is amazing that it did happen in five years. I was just saying to my wife (Alicia) that in all four series we were also able to get lucky from time to time and that’s what you need to be successful.”

Chiarelli’s first act as Boston’s GM was to lure big defenceman Zdeno Chara away from the Senators, signing his new captain to five-year, $37.5-million deal on July 1, 2006.

It’s a move Ottawa fans still have a hard time accepting. That probably got even a little more difficult when commissioner Gary Bettman called Chara to centre ice Wednesday to accept the Cup on behalf of the Bruins for the first time in 39 years.

“He’s an outstanding player first and foremost,” said. Chiarelli. “He fits well. We wanted a big piece and he’s huge. We wanted to be a team that’s hard to play against. You have to play a good defensive game and that’s what ‘Z’s’ game is all about.

“He takes care of his half of the ice and pretty much the other half of the ice as well. He’s a major building block.”

There are plenty of connections to the nation’s capital with the Bruins.

Some jokingly call the Bruins “Ottawa South” because of Navan’s Claude Julien behind the bench, along with former Senators centre Chris Kelly, injured centre Marc Savard of Orleans, Chiarelli and Chara.

With plenty of heat on him, Julien did a solid job in the playoffs.

“People asked us if we feared for our jobs. I didn’t and I know Claude didn’t,” said Chiarelli. “We all have expectations to win and what I’ve noticed here is it’s a far different dynamic building a team to be competitive vs. building a team to win. Claude did a masterful job in the playoffs tweaking his lines and making changes (to the power play and penalty kill).”

Picking up Kelly for a second-round pick was a nice addition for the Bruins.

“He was an important player for us,” said Chiarelli. “I knew he had been to the final in 2007 and I felt we could use his kind of experience. He’s won a Stanley Cup and he’s going to be with us next year.”

Chiarelli said he isn’t sure what he’s going to do on his day with the Cup, but he did have a first order of business: A little shut eye.

You can bet he slept like a baby Thursday night.

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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