The Boston Bruins added Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard during the summer of 2006. The 2006-07 season was supposed to be the turn upwards for the Bruins. It didn’t exactly happen that way. The Bruins finished the season 35-41-6, good for last in the Northeast Division and 13th in the Eastern Conference.
The Bruins collapsed down the stretch. They finished the season 1-10-1, a stretch that ultimately got coach Dave Lewis fired.
Although the on-ice results were not up to par, the Bruins did make a number of moves in 2007 that changed the complexion of the roster even further.
Peter Chiarelli’s work at the 2007 NHL Trade Deadline deserves praise. He made three trades during the month of February, with the first occurring on February 10th. Peter Chiarelli sent Brad Stuart and Wayne Primeau, acquired in the Joe Thornton trade, to the Calgary Flames. In exchange, the Bruins acquired Andrew Ference and Chuck Kobasew.
17 days later, on February 27th, the Bruins struck again. This time, Peter Chiarelli flipped Paul Mara to the New York Rangers for Aaron Ward. After that? Sniper Brad Boyes found himself in St. Louis. Chiarelli cashed him in for defenseman Dennis Wideman.
Ference played a top four role on the 2011 Stanley Cup team. He brought leadership, shutdown ability and a swagger to the club. Ference was one of the key cogs defensively during this era. His addition alone made the 2007 season noteworthy.
Ward played a similar role to Ference. He was key in the culture reset the Bruins underwent. Although Ward was not around for the 2011 Stanley Cup, his presence was certainly felt. Ward played a big role in the Bruins turnaround, especially in 2007-08.
The Wideman deal gave the Bruins a puck mover that they desperately needed at the time. People forget, but Wideman gave the Bruins some very strong seasons. Although he wasn’t on the 2011 team, his trade tree remained prominent. Wideman was part of the deal that brought Nathan Horton to Boston.
Correcting The Mistake
Chiarelli’s first major mistake with the Bruins was the decision to hire Dave Lewis. The General Manager fixed his mistake after just one season. He corrected the wrong on June 15th, 2007. The replacement for Lewis proved to be a homerun hire.
“I have a short list of candidates in mind,” Peter Chiarelli said at the press conference. That short list eventually landed on a former Montreal Canadiens bench boss.
Six days after Lewis was fired, the Bruins officially hired Claude Julien. Julien had been fired by the New Jersey Devils with just three games remaining in the season. The Devils had already clinched a playoff spot at the time and won 47 games when Julien was let go.
“He demands execution,” Chiarelli said at the time. “He demands that his players do what he wants.”
The Bruins did not make the same splash in 2007 that they made in 2006. Chiarelli made his mark at the trade deadline, and the goal was to allow the Bruins to continue to develop. With David Krejci joining Patrice Bergeron and Savard, the Bruins were trending upwards in the summer of 2007.
Chiarelli continued to address leadership, character and toughness with this team. Shawn Thornton, a little known enforcer from the Anaheim Ducks, signed in free agency. Thornton and the Bruins agreed to a three-year contract just weeks after he won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks.
Thornton brought serious toughness to the roster and, like Ward and Ference, brought a swagger to the locker room.
Many mocked the Thornton signing at the time. No one was mocking it four years later when Thornton played a big role in the 2011 Stanley Cup run.
The other notable move from the 2007 off-season? The Bruins flipped the 129th overall pick in the 2007 draft to the Columbus Blue Jackets on May 16th. They moved the selection to acquire a former second-round pick who wasn’t interested in signing with the Blue Jackets. His name? Adam McQuaid.
The Bruins promptly signed McQuaid to a three-year entry-level contract. He began his professional career in AHL Providence that fall.
That pick? The 129th overall pick was flipped in a trade to the Dallas Stars. The Stars selected Jamie Benn.