By Marc Filippino
For Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli, the formula for success is simple: find your passion then find a way to put it to work.
Addressing roughly 70 students at Suffolk Law School’s Sargent Hall, Chiarelli spoke about how he was able to combine the law degree he earned from the University of Ottawa with his love for hockey. After joining the Bruins in 2006, his strategy and strong player acquisition skills shaped the powerhouse 2011 Stanley Cup champions.
Chiarelli’s winding career path started as a player for Harvard University’s hockey team. After a short stint playing European hockey, Chiarelli turned his focus to scouting players and studying law.
“The epiphany for law school came to me while I was on a roof nailing shingles,” said Chiarelli. “I thought it would be a good stepping stone and it was the best decision of my life.”
Chiarelli’s visit to Suffolk Law on Oct. 7 came about following a law school reunion in Boston—where he reunited with Suffolk Law Dean Camille Nelson, also a graduate of University of Ottawa. The pair knew each other in law school but had not kept in touch.
Chiarelli believes it was in law school he found a clear career path. He kept attending games watching for talented players and eventually became a rising star on the legal and business side of the NHL.
His rise wasn’t easy. Chiarelli said he worked his way through countless positions before arriving at an ideal position as assistant general manager for the Ottawa Senators in 1999.
“When you’re passionate about something, you find the opportunities so you can continue being passionate,” he said.
Chiarelli said he has thrived on the opportunity to fix problems. Notably, throughout the years he’s had to aggressively manage the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), balancing teams’ and players’ rights.
But the proudest highlight of his career came in 2011, when the Bruins hoisted the Stanley Cup for the first time in nearly 40 years. Having a hand in acquiring most of the players on the team, Chiarelli said the experience of winning it all was “akin to his wife giving birth.”
“It’s unconditional joy to be at the top of your professional,” Chiarelli said. “Seeing what a player goes through mentally and physically during the playoffs and then to see the look on their faces when they win is just incredible.”