In mid-March, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs indicated Harry Sinden's role with the club was destined for a substantial change.
Yesterday, it became official, Sinden stepping down as president after 17 years. He will stay on as senior adviser to Jacobs and retain his position as alternate governor on the NHL's Board of Governors.
Sinden said advising is what he's been doing for the past year, although he plans to back off some of the business aspects of the organization.
Executive vice president Charlie Jacobs, the owner's son, said Sinden won't be replaced any time soon but said he plans to add a vice president of business operations.
``Internally, we have some restructuring in terms of day-to-day management," said Jacobs. ``In the next few days, I think we'll have other announcements. I will not be the next president of the Bruins, I can answer that. We are not having an open search nor are we actively interviewing anybody for that position right now. I don't foresee us actively interviewing any candidates next year. So I don't think it's a position we're looking to fill immediately. When I say immediately, I mean in the next 12 months or so."
Sinden, who turns 74 Sept. 14, said he'll see how this year goes, then will sit down with ownership to ``see if I can be of any use in the future."
The senior Jacobs, who has worked with Sinden for more than three decades, termed the move a natural evolution.
``It's been a delightful, wonderful relationship," Jeremy Jacobs said. ``My emotions today are the recognition that we've both gotten older. The best business we can take care of is the creation of a successorship, which I think he's done very well. The point is, the role he's played probably for the last year is the one he's assuming. He's a good sounding board for all of us. It takes him out of the every day line of command. I'm doing that myself in my own business. It's a smart thing to do. It allows the next generation to develop."
Sinden said his health is not an issue and said he has been out of the day-to-day dealings of the team since he hired Mike O'Connell as his successor Nov. 1, 2000.
``We have a new general manager [Peter Chiarelli] in place and he must be in total control of the hockey team and its players," said Sinden. ``Unlike maybe one other team in this league, that's the way we still see it here with the Boston Bruins. Any perception that I'm involved in that part of the business is wrong. I'm not responsible for that part, I don't make decisions in that part -- final decisions -- I didn't make them for the previous general manager, I didn't intend to make them for this one. To remove any kind of perception like that and make sure the autonomy necessary for Peter Chiarelli is there, I think this move is the way to do it."
When asked about Sinden's most important contribution to the franchise during Jacobs's tenure, the senior Jacobs said Sinden brought stability to the Bruins. He was also a lightning rod for controversy. Sinden, who said he managed the owner's money better than his own, took heat for his conservative spending habits on players. He maintained the courage of his convictions, however, and Jacobs believes the new collective bargaining agreement -- featuring a salary cap -- vindicates Sinden.
But it's a new era and both agreed it was time to turn over the reins.
``When we were interviewing [candidates] for the job of GM, I kept telling them I would not be in the picture," said Sinden, who told the Jacobses he was thinking of stepping down ``totally" a year from now. ``I think that was a concern of theirs. I tried to make it clear that wouldn't be the case."
Once Chiarelli settled into his job, Sinden felt he had to follow through on his declaration.
Although he won a Stanley Cup once as a coach in 1970, a title has eluded him during his years in the front office. The Bruins went to the finals three times -- in 1977, 1988, and 1990 -- but they have had limited playoff success in the past 15 years. He said he knows it is something that will affect how his career is viewed.
``A legacy is something I've never thought about in any part of my career," Sinden said. ``Certainly, there's a legacy here of length of tenure, I know that. Unfortunately, sometimes, championships are the only mark of success for particularly the fans of sports.
``We weren't able to get any of those -- Stanley Cups -- [during his 28 years as GM]. Despite the fact we were able to be so competitive for so many years and not win them, I do think we were a team, and have been a team and will be a team that is tremendously entertaining and competitive and has a will-to-win spirit that was established -- not by me so much -- but by the players I was surrounded by.
``Although it had [been] a rocky road in the last 10 years, particularly [as a result of] the tremendously inflated costs of putting teams on the ice, it will get back in the position it's been very quickly."