Peter Chiarelli of the Boston Bruins Speaks at Suffolk
Peter Chiarelli, General Manager for the Boston Bruins, spoke at Suffolk University Law School on Monday night. Chiarelli spoke about following passion, his legal experience, and his disdain for social media in front of a packed Sargent Hall Function Room.
The event was hosted by Dean Camille Nelson, the Office of Professional and Career Development, and the Sports Entertainment Law Association.
Chiarelli started things off by talking how he got his start. He was the captain for Harvard University’s hockey team, eventually deciding to play hockey overseas in England. He was cut by his hockey club, and he had no idea what to do next.
Chiarelli decided to attend law school. “In hindsight,” he said, “It was probably the best decision I ever made.”
While attending law school at the University of Ottawa, Harvard University’s hockey program got in contact with him. They wanted him to help scout out potential players in Ottawa.
“I really enjoyed doing it. I became passionate about it,” Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli began to practice law in 1993, but found that being a player agent was a far better experience.
Eventually, the Ottawa Senators hired Chiarelli to work for their organization. Chiarelli played a major role in the Alexei Yashin trade. He discussed that though Yashin was a good player, his actions not honoring his contract put him in a bad category in the Sens organization. On the eve of the 2001 NHL Draft, the Senators traded Yashin to the New York Islanders. In return, Ottawa received some defenseman named Zdeno Chara, Bill Muckalt, and New York’s second overall pick, who turned out to be Jason Spezza.
From the legal side of things, Chiarelli discussed how contractual issues were resolved. In Yashin’s case, by not honoring his contract, he was replaced. Also in the legal field, Chiarelli discussed how networking can help build beneficial relationships in the future. [Look up Zdeno Chara, 2011 Stanley Cup].
After serving seven years in Ottawa’s organization, Chiarelli was named General Manager of the Boston Bruins in May of 2006.
Chiarelli said his best experience as a GM was winning the Stanley Cup in 2011. Seeing the players celebrate, Chiarelli said it was like childbirth.
“It’s unconditional joy. It was something that goes back to passion,” he said.
After his speech, students were given a chance to ask questions to Chiarelli. One of the first questions related to the Jarome Iginla fiasco before the trade deadline during the 2012-2013 NHL season. The student asked for Chiarelli’s thoughts on social media and the impact it has on running an organization. Rumors began to swirl the week before the deadline, that the Bruins had landed Iginla. Social media fueled the fire, with “experts” claiming that Iginla was a Bruin. Many woke up the next morning to find that the rumors were false, that Iginla was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins – not the Bruins.
“It’s awful. Social media is awful,” Chiarelli said.
Chiarelli also voiced his thoughts on Nathan Horton signing with another team during the offseason, “I was just mad because he was a good player for us. But I figured it was coming.”
Chiarelli left the students in attendance with some advice; “If you fly too close to the sun, you’re gonna get burned. … If you don’t handle yourself ethically, you won’t last long.”
“If you’re passionate about something, you’ll find a way,” he concluded.