The wait is finally over. At 11 this morning, some five days after the official announcement, the Bruins will introduce Peter Chiarelli as the seventh general manager in club history.
The coronation will take place at Legends Restaurant inside TD Banknorth Garden, and tomorrow, Chiarelli is scheduled to fly back to his native Ottawa to continue his duties as assistant general manager of the Senators. Although he will be working for the Bruins in an advisory capacity, his reign won't begin on a full-time basis until July 15.
After Mike O'Connell was relieved of his duties March 25, the club's front office went through a period of self-evaluation. Charlie Jacobs, son of owner Jeremy Jacobs, has clearly become a far more influential presence with the team as executive vice president. After what amounted to a four-year apprenticeship, Jacobs has stepped in to a more significant role and has promised that the Bruins will no longer conduct business as usual.
As the Jacobs family, owner of Delaware North Companies, has looked to its younger generation to turn the page in Bruins history, it has also opted for a younger, fresher approach to lead the Original Six franchise into the future. Although the Jacobses felt they could've done it with Ray Shero, who turned down an offer from the Bruins to accept a more lucrative GM job with the Pittsburgh Penguins, they expressed excitement when they landed Chiarelli.
The 41-year-old former Harvard hockey captain signed a four-year contract, and one of his first orders of business will be to decide the fate of coach Mike Sullivan. The Bruins' release to the media listed only the senior and junior Jacobses, president Harry Sinden, and Chiarelli as being part of the festivities today.
Sullivan was not on the list, an indication that no decision on him has been made.
Another decision the front office will need to make is in regard to the future of veterans Alexei Zhamnov and Shawn McEachern, if they have one here. Both players are expected to be bought out of their contracts after very disappointing seasons.
In terms of next month's National Hockey League draft, assistant general manager Jeff Gorton -- whose fate also is in Chiarelli's hands -- has been spearheading the club's efforts as it prepares to make the fifth overall pick. It seems a slam dunk that the Bruins will take a forward, most likely a center.
While serving as the top aide to Senators GM John Muckler, Chiarelli participated in all aspects of hockey operations. He was considered the team's ``capologist," the person who negotiates the ins and outs of the new collective bargaining agreement with regard to player personnel. He also oversaw the Senators' top AHL affiliate in Binghamton. Ottawa wound up with the best record in the Eastern Conference this season with 113 points.
Chiarelli was involved in two drafts with the Senators. In 2004, the club selected defenseman Andrej Meszaros with the No. 23 pick overall, and in 2005, it took another blue liner in Brian Lee at No. 9. Meszaros is coming off an outstanding rookie campaign during which he played all 82 games and scored 39 points (10 goals). Lee is coming off his first year at the University of North Dakota. In 43 games, he had 3 goals and 22 assists.
Earlier this month, the junior Jacobs said his family takes very seriously the fans' anger and disappointment at the product, and he said it is shared by everyone associated with the team, from ownership on down.
``I do think it's important in Boston, and particularly that Bruins fans understand what we're trying to do and what we hope to have happen in this transition period," he said. ``It's a real critical time, in my opinion, for the organization, one like we've never faced before."
One area in which Jacobs has vowed improvement is accessibility.
In recent years, the Bruins have taken a beating in terms of public relations, and they want to change that. After losing out on some high-profile free agents -- such as Mike Modano and Peter Forsberg, who reportedly didn't want to play in Boston -- the Bruins scrambled to put together a team in the post-lockout era. Instead of having a Stanley Cup contender, as they promised, their roster had more than its share of overpaid underachievers.
Jacobs has consistently promised better communication, and he believes the team is prepared to turn a corner.
``We've got a lot of changes occurring internally and hopefully soon we'll be able to communicate those to the external [people]," he said. ``There are some principles we're trying to really put our fingers on and say, `This is really what it needs to be about.' We're looking for those in our candidates and hoping to find those attributes.
``It goes without saying a guy has to be able to evaluate skill and all the rest, but there are some parts to this addition that need to be spoken or at least addressed."
All of that will be addressed today, the first day of the Chiarelli era.
Check out www.boston.com/sports for news updates and video following the Bruins' news conference today at 11.