Bruins fire GM Peter Chiarelli

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins fired general manager Peter Chiarelli after missing the playoffs for the first time in eight seasons, and will leave the fate of coach Claude Julien up to Chiarelli's successor.

"I don't want to take away anything that Peter accomplished here," Bruins president Cam Neely said Wednesday in a news conference at TD Garden. "He's gonna go down in history as the GM that brought the Stanley Cup to Boston for the first time in 39 years, so that says a lot about his abilities as a general manager.

"It was not an easy decision to come to ... but we felt it was the best thing to do moving forward."

After being named team CEO in January, Charlie Jacobs called a non-playoff season for the Bruins "absolutely unacceptable" and "an utter disappointment and a failure."

Jacobs didn't back away from that on Wednesday.

"I feel they were accurate," Jacobs said of his January comments. "I said for us to not make the playoffs would've been a failure, and so here we are out [of the playoffs]. And I want to clarify, by the way, my comment about the playoffs -- the expectation is for us not only to get in the playoffs, but to play for and compete for the Stanley Cup."

But, Jacobs said, the decision to fire Chiarelli wasn't only about missing the playoffs this season.

"I didn't necessarily think at the end of the season, 'OK, let's wash our hands of X, Y or Z associate.' That wasn't it," he said. "It was, again, coming back and doing an audit of what transpired throughout the year, where we were in terms of the organization.

"This was not an easy decision. I have a great deal of respect for Peter and what he's accomplished here. I can't thank him enough for [the Stanley Cup title in] 2011 and the ride that that was, but we felt it was time to move on."

Neely said the fate of Julien and the rest of his staff will ultimately be determined by Chiarelli's replacement. When asked if they gave Julien the option to explore other coaching opportunities, Neely said the subject did come up in their meeting Wednesday.

"We told him the situation," Neely said, "and he said, 'I signed a contract to coach here, I want to coach here.' So he made that clear when he left."

The Bruins' finish to the regular season resembled the peaks and valleys of a roller coaster -- five straight wins followed by six straight losses followed by five straight wins followed by three straight losses. But Neely doesn't think they're facing a teardown.

"I don't think we're looking at a large or complete rebuild," he said. "We've got still a good core group of players who have great character. To a man, most of them admitted that they had an off year this year. We think that group is still good enough to help us compete for championships. The difficult thing is where we are up against the cap, and that's something we're gonna have to manage."

Boston went 41-27-14 this season, finishing two points shy of a playoff berth. The Bruins posted an overall regular-season record of 386-233-85 under Chiarelli.

The Bruins reached the playoffs seven times and won the Stanley Cup in 2011, their first championship in 39 years, in Chiarelli's nine seasons as general manager.

"Tough to see him leave. It is the business that you are in and we as players deserve some of the blame for today," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron told ESPNBoston.com. "Peter has helped me grow as a player and person over the years, and I wish him nothing but the best in the future."

The Bruins also reached the Stanley Cup finals in 2013 before losing to the Blackhawks. Boston won the Presidents' Trophy last season after finishing with the league's best regular-season point total but was eliminated by the rival Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Bruins were hampered this season by injuries to defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dougie Hamilton and center David Krejci. But Chiarelli also made two costly decisions last offseason.

After letting Jarome Iginla leave as a free agent, Chiarelli failed to replace his scoring potential, and the Bruins dropped from No. 3 in the NHL in goals scored to No. 23. He also traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders just before the season -- a salary-cap move that left the team short.

With one game left in the season, Chiarelli called it "a failure on everybody's part."

"But being a failure doesn't mean there has to be a complete overhaul of everything," he said.

In recent seasons, Chiarelli has faced criticism of his draft record, especially with three consecutive first-round picks (Zach Hamill, 2007; Joe Colborne, 2008; and Jordan Caron, 2009) underwhelming with their performances.

Because of the salary cap, Neely said the Bruins' draft misses have been doubly costly.

"We have to look at [the] organization as a whole," he said. "In today's day and age, with the game and the cap, and a team that is fortunate enough to be able to spend to the cap, as you have success and those players get better and you have to pay them more, you need those entry-level players to come in and be able to have an impact. It's expensive to always get readymade players.

"I think there was a period of time there where, and I don't think I'm saying anything that hasn't been chronicled, we missed on three or four years on some drafts that I think right now we're kinda paying the price for. That's not the sole reason, but that's an area where we can improve."

A Harvard graduate, Chiarelli was the assistant GM in Ottawa when he was hired to take over the Bruins in 2006. Coach Dave Lewis lasted just one season, during which the team missed the playoffs, before Chiarelli hired Julien to replace him.

The Bruins also announced they have fired amateur scouts Mike Chiarelli (Peter's brother) and Denis Leblanc and European head scout Jukka Holtari. Mike Chiarelli had been with the team for seven seasons and was responsible for scouting in Ontario. Leblanc and Holtari had been with the team for eight seasons.

ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald and The Associated Press contributed to this report.