The Bruins' search for a general manager ground toward an end yesterday when Ray Shero, an assistant GM for two clubs over the past 14 years, was offered the position, some two months after former GM Mike O'Connell was fired.
Shero, 43, was in town last week with his wife Karen, and met with team president Harry Sinden and executive vice president Charlie Jacobs, the son of club owner Jeremy Jacobs, before returning Friday to Nashville, where he has been the Predators' assistant GM the past eight NHL seasons.
According to two sources with close ties to the Boston front office, Shero was offered the position, either Sunday night or yesterday morning, and yesterday afternoon the sides remained in negotiations aimed at finalizing a deal for the son of former Flyers coach Fred Shero.
``They are in with Shero -- 100 percent," said one of the sources, corresponding via e-mail.
Reached via e-mail in mid-afternoon, the junior Jacobs wrote that he would not comment on the situation. Earlier in the day, he told two Globe reporters in separate e-mails that the club would have no news to report on the subject yesterday.
A former player agent who lived for a few years in the Boston area following his 1984 graduation from St. Lawrence, Shero entered team management with Ottawa in 1993 and spent six years as the Senators' assistant GM.
Shero then joined the Predators in November 1998, and for the past 2-3 years has widely been considered a GM-in-waiting around the league. Two sources last week said that his boss in Nashville, David Poile, contacted Sinden soon after O'Connell's dismissal, advancing Shero's name for the position.
Provided the sides tidy up a deal quickly, Shero could be announced as GM as early as today. However, with the Yankees at Fenway Park for a three-game set this week, the announcement might be held until Thursday, allowing the Bruins to capture a larger media contingent.
O'Connell, Sinden's handpicked successor who joined the club as assistant GM in the spring of '94, was fired as GM March 25, with the Bruins well on their way to missing the playoffs for the third time in the past six years.
``Shero will take the job, without question," said another source, one of the many who interviewed for the job in recent weeks. ``He interviewed in Boston and Pittsburgh, and he's wanted this chance for a very long time. Good for him. Good guy, and he'll do a great job."
If he accepts the offer, Shero will become the club's seventh general manager, dating back to the opening of the franchise in the autumn of 1924.
Shero would break the club's decades-long practice of hiring from within the Bruins ``family," since Art Ross was the club's GM and coach from its inception. Lynn Patrick, who succeeded Ross as GM in 1954, coached the club for four years before taking over the top front office position. Hap Emms, who followed Patrick, played briefly for the Bruins in the '30s prior to his two-year run (1965-67) as GM. Milt Schmidt was a legendary winger in Boston for years, and was later head coach, leading to his tour as GM at the end of the '60s and into the '70s when he cobbled together the squad that won two Stanley Cups.
Sinden coached the club to the '70 Cup prior to becoming GM in 1972. O'Connell played 5 1/2 seasons for the Bruins in the '80s, and later was assistant coach, before eventually being named GM in 2001 after some seven years as Sinden's right-hand man.
Shero, who never played in the NHL, has no prior to connection to the Bruins. His father coached the Flyers to back-to-back Cups in 1974 and 1975, the Broad Street Bullies clinching the first of those by rubbing out the Bruins in six games in the final round.
``A very good guy," reported one NHL GM, corresponding by e-mail. ``I like him, and respect him."
The junior Jacobs has stated that he hopes the new hire will aid in making the Bruins a far more transparent operation, in terms of the messages the club conveys to both the media and the public. Without question, the club needs an extreme image makeover. Along with the Celtics, their co-tenants on Causeway Street, they have nearly slipped off the radar in a city that now is decidely Red Sox- and Patriots-centric.
Jacobs, though, could have been far more forthcoming during the search for the new GM. The Bruins have steadfastly refused even to identify candidates, and as of yesterday, Jacobs would not confirm the offer to Shero, or so much as name him as a candidate.