- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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The Bruins on Wednesday announced the signing of forward Gregory Campbell to a three-year contract and an agreement in principle with forward Chris Kelly on a four-year pact. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said the deal with Kelly can't be completed until July 1 due to payroll tagging issues, but both sides have let it be known there won't be any reneging.
Campbell, Kelly and Chiarelli made it clear that there was never any doubt the two players would remain Bruins instead of becoming unrestricted free agents on July 1. While Kelly and Campbell most likely could've commanded more than the respective $3 million and $1.6 million per season that they signed for with Boston had they hit the free agent market July 1, they knew from the second negotiations started that it wasn't about getting the most lucrative contract. Staying with the team they won their first Stanley Cup with -- and one they hope they can win more Cups with -- was the main priority for both players.
"It was extremely important to me to at least give it 100 percent of my effort to be back with the team because it's really a team that fits my style of play and it's a team that's built on winning championships and a team that's fully committed," Campbell said. "My first priority going into free agency was ultimately to not even make it there and sign with the Bruins."
Kelly concurred and expressed his gratitude to the Bruins for making it clear how much they wanted him back.
"There was not really any other decision than to come back and be part of the Boston Bruins organization," Kelly said. "Right from day one [Chiarelli] knew that I wanted to be back and they wanted to have me back. There's no better feeling than to be wanted to come back to such a great organization."
Chiarelli was thrilled with Campbell's and Kelly's initial desire to remain Bruins.
"These two guys to want to come back – and Kells is another guy as a centerman that had he gone to the market he would've got much more money than this," Chiarelli said. "It's kind of a feel-good story in these two players and I'm happy to get them done at this time. They're two really important pieces to our team."
Both players noted the winning attitude of the organization as well as the strong sense of team unity as the main reasons they wanted to stay in Boston.
"I've had nothing but great memories with this team and as soon as I signed I got text messages from every single player on the team," Campbell said. "That really exemplifies how close we are as a team and it's just really great to have almost the entire 2011 championship team back. I know that this year was a little bit of an underachievement but with all that being said we really played well as a team and I really believe there's a lot of good things to come and that's why I want to be a part of it."
Kelly expressed the same sentiments and was honored to remain a Bruin.
"To be a Bruin is something that's been really special to me," Kelly said. "Getting to win a championship in Boston was something that I can't describe and I know Peter and the whole organization is willing to have that become a regular thing. That was a huge reason why I wanted to come back because it's such a great organization that wants to win. You only get so many opportunities to get a chance to win and obviously I wanted to get as many chances as I could so Boston was the right decision for myself."
The Bruins on Wednesday announced the signing of forward Gregory Campbell to a three-year contract and an agreement in principle with forward Chris Kelly on a four-year pact.