"Let me be perfectly clear," Chiarelli told Boston.com. "This trade is really about two things. One, it's about a player who did not want to play in Boston. Two, it's about the threat or the perceived threat of an offer sheet."
The 21-year-old forward, who led Boston in goals last season, was traded to Toronto in exchange for first-round draft picks in 2010 and 2011 and a second-rounder in 2010. According to Chiarelli, Boston tried to move him to Toronto during the 2009 draft but was unable because of a late miscommunication, and when Kessel informed him in July that he wanted to be traded, he had little choice other than to wait for the best possible offer to come down.
One rumor Chiarelli shot down on Saturday? The idea that Kessel jumped ship because the Bruins refused to pay him. He was reportedly in the market for a deal that would pay him about $5 million per season, and he signed a five-year, $27 million extension with Toronto.
"We want players that want to be here," Chiarelli said. "I know that this player is a good player. Obviously he is. He can skate. He can shoot the puck. But we want players that want to be here. We want to grow the team with these types of players. I know the history here, but this isn't about frugality. There were some significant [contract] offers made. There was little or no attempt to negotiate from the other side, which I think is for a reason, which is the reason I explained earlier."
Chiarelli also indicated that the B's were in discussions with Nashville but Nashville could not have matched the contract the Maple Leafs offered.
Some have suggested that Kessel wanted out of Boston because of a thorny relationship with head coach Claude Julien. While it has been acknowledged that the two clashed at times — mainly concerning the Bruins' defense-first system — Chiarelli also squashed those rumors.
"He had his best season under this coach," he said. "Enough on that."