They didn’t want to get into specifics and, for the most part, they didn’t.
That was the biggest takeaway from Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs and team president Cam Neely meeting with the media this afternoon, just hours after dismissing GM Peter Chiarelli. The pair began the session evading questions about Chiarelli’s ouster — “I don’t want to get into specifics,” was the common refrain — and left without really delving into why one of the NHL’s most respected GMs, who led Boston to two Stanley Cup Finals in the last five years, was turfed.
Thirty minutes later, I’m not sure we got a full, straight answer about why they fired Chiarelli.
— Amalie Benjamin (@AmalieBenjamin) April 15, 2015
That’s not to say Neely and Jacobs didn’t talk around the firing. Here’s a list of the (possible) reasons that were (partially) touched upon:
— Missing the playoffs.
— A lack of push from younger players for roster spots, which morphed into talk of whiffing at the draft (which Brough pointed out on Twitter.)
— Straying from the team’s identity, possibly related to the aforementioned young players and lackluster drafts. “We got away from our identity,” Neely explained. “We weren’t as tough to play against as we’d like to be.”
— Cap management, with Jacobs saying the Jarome Iginla contract put Boston in a “sticky” situation.
It’s likely a combination of all these factors played a role Chiarelli’s dismissal, though one wonders why he wasn’t afforded the chance to try and fix some of the issues. For as disappointing as this season was, Chiarelli developed a good track record of success — and a good reputation across the league — over the previous eight.
The lack of insight also makes it tough to predict what the Bruins seek in a new GM. All we know is Neely and Jacobs will look both internally and externally for “the best candidate, period,” and that the new hire will decide the fate of head coach Claude Julien.
Neely also confirmed he had zero interest in becoming GM.
That isn’t to say, however, that Neely doesn’t want major influence over the club moving forward. Consider this, from the Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa:
Chiarelli’s ouster is a result of two things: the Bruins’ failure to make the playoffs and the clout of Cam Neely.
The president, in conjunction with CEO Charlie Jacobs, made the decision to fire Chiarelli. Neely has not been happy with many things about the Bruins this season: the defense-first style of play, the small number of young players pushing for NHL employment, and the team’s tightness against the salary cap.
This is Neely’s quickest move to call for change. He will have a big say in who becomes the next GM. Beyond that, Neely will have an greater say in how the GM goes about his business. The 2015-16 Bruins and beyond will be built according to Neely’s vision and play in the manner he prefers.
Neely also revealed he utilized some of his clout at the March trade deadline.
“At some point during the year as we approached the trade deadline I had a conversation with Peter to make sure that we were protecting as many assets as we could,” Neely said. “Peter was very professional, and he was going to do everything he could to help improve our club during the season.
“It was more about, for me, trading assets for rentals which he understood.”
Translation: Chiarelli wasn’t allowed to mortgage the future for a deal that might get the B’s into the playoffs, which might’ve saved his job.
Not long after saying that, Neely left the podium and embarked on arguably his most important offseason after coming aboard five seasons ago. There’s a GM search to conduct, Julien’s lame-duck status to figure out and trade rumors swirling around Milan Lucic.
Soon, the Bruins will have to get into specifics.