Say what you want about Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and the way he has handled contract negotiations in the past, but it appears now that Jacobs truly has taken a step back to let his general manager do the job.
Throughout the Phil Kessel negotiations, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has stated that if an offer sheet was submitted by a team, he has the blessings of Bruins ownership to match any offer “within reason.” Even as recently as Thursday night’s town hall meeting with Bruins season-ticket and premium seat holders, Chiarelli said the green light was still there to do so.
“We would find room,” Chiarelli said, when asked Thursday night about matching an offer sheet or bringing Kessel back. “We’ve done it in the past. But it has to make sense, and it has to be balanced within the team salary structure.”
When asked why ownership has taken this approach in recent years and specifically in the Kessel negotiations, Jacobs’ son and Bruins principal owner, Charlie Jacobs, told NESN.com that his GM needs to have the confidence of his bosses behind him and know that they believe he can get the job done.
“Well, at the end of the day, I think that you have to back Peter in his decisions,” Jacobs said. “When Peter decides that he has to sign whoever he has to sign, then we have to empower him to do that. Then it’s up to him to get us the best team he can under the cap.”
While Jacobs grimaced a bit when asked about his feelings on the way the Kessel saga has unraveled, he took the high road and once again praised his GM for the class he has shown through the whole process.
“It is what it is, and I try not to let my emotions get the best of me,” Jacobs admitted. “But Peter has done an absolutely great job of that. It has not been personal, and that’s the way it should be.”
Chiarelli has repeatedly said that he is willing to move players out to accommodate Kessel, but that gesture hasn’t seemed to sway the Kessel camp into compromising. Jacobs, who hasn’t been involved at all in negotiations or spoken to Kessel’s agent, Wade Arnott, wouldn’t comment but agreed all signs seem to be pointing toward Kessel not returning to the Bruins.
“I don’t know, I haven’t spoken to Wade, and I wish it had changed by now,” Jacobs said, “but I don’t think that’s going to happen at this point.”
There were more reports circulating on Friday that a trade or offer sheet was imminent, but a Bruins source told NESN.com that, despite numerous reports (including one from yours truly on NESN SportsDesk), Kessel isn’t opposed to going to Nashville.
“He would prefer playing for a team where hockey isn’t the primary sport as opposed to playing in a fish bowl like Toronto, where the Maple Leafs are treated like the Red Sox,” the source said.
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