Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs confirmed yesterday that Peter Chiarelli, still on the job as Ottawa's assistant general manager, has agreed to a four-year contract to become Boston's new GM, effective July 15.
Chiarelli, 41, will remain working for Ottawa for the next six-plus weeks at the insistence of the Senators, according to Jacobs. In the meantime, the Bruins' interim GM, Jeff Gorton, along with club president Harry Sinden, will carry on with the day-to-day running of the franchise, including key duties encompassing the June 24 draft in Vancouver and the start of free agency July 1.
Chiarelli will be formally introduced during a news conference Wednesday at TD Banknorth Garden, and then will quickly return to Ottawa to finish his term.
``Clearly, it's an encumbrance," said Jacobs. ``But we'll have to live with it. And we're OK with it. We're excited about Peter, very excited. He's a guy who, I believe, one day could advance beyond a general manager's role -- possibly be a team president."
Jacobs, speaking from his home in suburban Buffalo, confirmed that the Bruins will give up a draft pick, possibly as high as a second-rounder, as compensation for signing Chiarelli. The compensation was the outcome of a mediation session, chaired by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at his New York office on Thursday.
``It was the meeting from hell," said Jacobs, who was joined at the meeting by his son, Charlie, the team's executive vice president, and Sinden. ``There's very little I'm allowed to divulge about the meeting, but it was tough, and long . . . it lasted all day."
According to sources connected to the many parties who attended, including Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, team president Roy Mlakar, and Chiarelli, the Ottawa side at one point categorized the Bruins' job talks with Chiarelli as tampering -- always a hot-button issue, in any professional league.
The senior Jacobs would neither confirm nor deny that the Senators presented a tampering case, noting a mandate of confidentiality expressed by Bettman.
Clearly, based on comments by Jacobs, and countless media reports the last two days, the Senators, be it on the front-office or ownership level, were rankled by Boston's advances toward their assistant GM. In the end, with Bettman's prodding and mediating, the sides agreed to a deal, leaving Chiarelli on his old job into July and leaving the Bruins to give up a draft pick -- one not higher than No. 51 overall -- in the 2007, '08, or '09 draft.
Jacobs also confirmed that at one point this week the Bruins had GM job offers on the table for both Chiarelli and Ray Shero, who on Thursday was named the GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Bruins extended an offer to Shero, said Jacobs, including a salary range that the club told him was not open to negotiation.
Shero, through a Vancouver-based agent, according to Jacobs, rejected the offer, but made a counteroffer. Prior to making a formal rejection of Shero's counter, said Jacobs, the Bruins then made their offer to Chiarelli -- without yet fully understanding Ottawa's adamancy over receiving compensation.
``I'm sure we did," said Jacobs, confirming that the offers were out there simultaneously.
Jacobs said Chiarelli, contrary to many media reports, will have full say on whether Mike Sullivan remains aboard as coach and whether he retains Gorton as assistant general manager. Both Shero and Chiarelli, said Jacobs, were assured they had the final decision on both job positions. In Gorton's case, said the owner, both candidates were told that ownership liked Gorton, respected his work, and hoped he could be retained ``in some valuable capacity."
Shero, by Jacobs's eye, would have come aboard as GM if the Bruins had acted faster. He was one of eight candidates, of a much larger group to apply for the job, to be selected to meet with Jacobs in Buffalo, and go through a battery of testing -- standard fare in the corporate world. As other teams began to interview candidates, said Jacobs, Shero's stock around the league rose, and he ultimately got the financial deal (five years, $4 million) out of Pittsburgh that the Bruins were reluctant to extend.
``A sharp guy, and clearly will be successful as a GM -- trained very well under David Poile in Nashville," said Jacobs. ``I'd be delighted, somewhere down the road, to do business with him again. A first-rate guy. When it came down to it, we would have been delighted with either Shero or Chiarelli. And truthfully, we're thrilled with the way it worked out."