By Allan Muir
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has made some franchise-altering decisions over the summer, but his best move of all looks like the one that will preserve the status quo.
Boston announced on Thursday that Chiarelli has signed a four-year extension that will keep him calling the shots for the club through the 2017-18 season.
The only thing the Bruins could have done that would have been better? Tying him down in perpetuity. If there are others who are better at the job than Chiarelli, you don't need more than one hand to count 'em.
Since joining the organization in 2006, Chiarelli has proved to be an astute judge of talent, a shrewd trader and a mindful conservator of the team's finances. He's also shown himself capable of making tough calls. He demonstrated that quality not only when he made the blockbuster deal last month that sent the franchise's slightly tarnished golden boy, Tyler Seguin, to the Stars for a significant package headlined by Loui Eriksson, but also more recently when he cut ties with local favorite Andrew Ference.
Chiarelli also knows when to express loyalty and faith, as he did with mega-extensions for goaltender Tuukka Rask and center Patrice Bergeron. And his handling of the Tim Thomas and Jarome Iginla debacles was as thoughtful and effective as could be asked, given the circumstances.
And Chiarelli can clean up his own mess. The draft had been an unproductive source of talent for the Bruins under former director of amateur scouting Wayne Smith. Chiarelli addressed that failing, perhaps a year too late, by firing Smith and replacing him with Keith Gretzky last month.
Leadership like that has led to Boston's greatest run of success in four decades. The B's are 291-187-62 since Chiarelli came on board, and have returned to the ranks of the NHL's elite franchises, with a Stanley Cup win in 2011 and a Cup finals appearance in 2013. That's the course Chiarelli set. Bruins fans should be thrilled that his hand will remain on the tiller.