October 25, 2011

Chiarelli not surprised by hints of hangover

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. (Getty)

The tension was palpable. The anticipation was through the roof. As media members waited for Peter Chiarelli to come on the line for his eagerly awaited conference call, Bruins fans desperate to find out its purpose awaited the first inkling of info across the web.

What they got from every blogger and beat writer on the line was the same message in unison: false alarm. Right off the hop, Director of Communications Matt Chmura reiterated his comments from earlier in the day that the GM’s availability was a run-of-the-mill affair and didn’t signal the looming drop of a big bomb by the B’s.

There was no trade to announce nor a retirement to share. Instead, Chiarelli – whose club had off for the second time in three days – simply allowed curious writers to pick his brain about the so-so start to the season by the defending champs. Thus far, the general manager feels there’s signs of the deeply dreaded, Cup hangover.

“Whether it's been self fulfilling or not, I believe it's here in some form,” Chiarelli said of the hangover. “I haven't minded our game that much, like I think our compete level is getting a little better, our execution is getting a little better. We’re still a little sloppy here and there but I have to stress that it's something that we have to work through.”

Chiarelli and Co. certainly knew this was a possibility, as many an NHL club has gone through this after capturing a title.

“The expectations are high, but we also certainly expected this kind of thing and there's no -- as we're finding out -- easy answer to it and we've done a few things to try and spark the guy,” the GM said. “Our coaching staff for example the other day, worked a lot on the offensive chances and scoring and finishing and at the practice, the guys actually looked like they were having fun that practice so those are the types of little things that you have to do and our coaching staff is a creative staff. I know Claude [Julien] is meeting this head on.”

The GM hopes an upcoming pair of battles with the Montreal Canadiens, Boston’s historical rivals, will get the juices flowing and pave the way for the club to get back on track.

“I would hope that that would be the case,” said Chiarelli. “Certainly that's come to mind when I look at the schedule. We've got enough games that for whatever reason motivates us, I look at Toronto and you have the whole Kessel thing and what's gone down there and the Chicago they've won the cup before.

“We've had some good games that for some reason, there's a reason to be motivated and I would hope that that would be the case against Montreal. They're rivals, we've had some real good games and series with them and all that history last year. There's always a reason to play well against Montreal and I would hope that that happens again in the next two games.”