After a long pursuit, Chiarelli got his man

BOSTON -- It was a long and arduous process, but Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli finally got his man.

The Bruins acquired veteran defenseman Tomas Kaberle from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Boston’s own first-round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, forward prospect Joe Colborne and a conditional second-round pick in 2012. If the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup Finals this season, or they’re able to re-sign Kaberle after this year, then the Maple Leafs will receive the Bruins’ second-round pick in 2012.

Kaberle, 32, has spent his entire 12-year NHL career in Toronto and he will be an unrestricted free agent following this season. Now that the Bruins have him, Chiarelli wants to keep him.

“I would like to try to re-sign him,” said Chiarelli after Friday’s press conference at TD Garden. “I think we would re-sign him, but we wouldn’t do anything until after the season.”

Chiarelli attempted to acquire Kaberle on draft day two years ago, but the deal fell through. Chiarelli has been persistent and has kept in contact with Toronto GM Brian Burke about the possibility of completing the deal.

Discussion this time around began nearly four weeks ago and was finally completed on Friday, Chiarelli said.

Chiarelli doesn’t like to disclose too much of the inner workings of any deal, especially one as complex as this one, but he did admit that Kaberle has been on his radar for quite some time.

“It was publicized well enough that we obviously tried to acquire Tomas at the draft two years ago, and he’s a player we always felt would help us,” Chiarelli said. “We’ve had on-again, off-again discussions with the Leafs over the course of these two years.

“He’s a UFA [unrestricted free agent], so from the Leafs' perspective, I would imagine that they wanted to maximize their return. They weren’t going to re-sign him, and they maximized their return, but we got the player we wanted.”

Even when Chiarelli and Burke weren’t exchanging e-mails or text messages, internally the Bruins were still formulating a plan and discussing what the organization would do if the deal were brought back to life.

“With a deal of this magnitude, and when you put in the prospect [Colborne] that we did, there’s a lot of internal discussion and debate. Sometimes you go in different directions, so it took some time that way.”

Even this time around, there were times when Chiarelli thought this deal would fall through again.

“Sure, there are times when you maybe think it’s off the rails a little bit, but that applies to every deal. There’re ebbs and flows to the deal, but I think when you have two motivated parties you’ll get a deal done.”

The fact it finally got done, and Boston got what it believes to be a much-needed component for a strong push for the Stanley Cup, not even Bruins pugilist Shawn Thornton could have knocked the smile off Chiarelli’s face on Friday.