Bruins Pouring Money Into All the Right Places in Effort to Build Cup-Caliber Squad

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Bruins Pouring Money Into All the Right Places in Effort to Build Cup-Caliber Squad Sometimes, in the court of public opinion, the Bruins can't seem to catch a break. For years, sports-talk radio callers have complained about the team's perceived lack of spending, saying the team's 38-year Stanley Cup drought would've ended years ago if that one extra player would've been brought into Boston.

That argument fell flat five years ago when the NHL introduced a salary cap. The Bruins have been at or near the cap ever since. Hard to call a team cheap when it's near the top of the league in spending.

The B's are there again now, and will be for the foreseeable future. Last weekend in Prague, general manager Peter Chiarelli announced the team had locked up defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Patrice Bergeron to contracts totaling some $60.5 million dollars. Chara will be here for a staggering seven years; Bergeron for three more.

Since the announcements, complaints have poured into blogs and radio stations about the Bruins being hamstrung by these extensions. Too much money for too many years, these people say. What is Chiarelli thinking?

Let's look at these two deals independently. The first is easy. Bergeron is still only 25 years old, just now entering the prime years of his hockey career. He is, and will continue to be, a big part of the team's impressive depth down the middle. At $5 million per year, he'll be expected to be one of the leaders on this team, and there's no reason to expect that to change in the next four seasons.

The Chara signing is certainly more of a gamble. At seven years and $45.5 million, the team is willing to bet that he will become the Boston version of Chris Pronger — a rock-solid defenseman who is able to maintain his effectiveness through his late 30s.

The comparison is a good one. Pronger is three years older than Chara and is still one of the top defensemen in the league. No one is worried about his skill set disappearing in the coming days.

As we know, Chara is a big, strong defender who has a tremendous work ethic and is a fitness freak in the offseason. He's the perfect stay-at-home cornerstone to build your blue line corps around. Is he going to dazzle you with end-to-end rushes? No. In fact, the Bruins can still use a puck-moving defenseman to complement Chara this season (although Dennis Seidenberg may fill the role pretty well before it's all said and done). 

Chara's game is built on strength and conditioning. He's got a great shot and will get goals and assists from the point. He should be able to simplify that game even more in the years ahead. There are no guarantees in life, but there's no reason to think Chara won't be an effective leader on this team for many years.

And there's certainly no reason to think the Bruins aren't willing to spend money to win. They see the window of opportunity, and they're willing to use a big pile of cash to keep it propped open.

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