By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) – The NHL offseason is about to get a whole lot longer, thanks to the NHL owners’ lockout that is set to commence after 11:59 p.m. Saturday night.

That means the lasting image we’ll have of the 2011-12 Bruins – Joel Ward scoring against Tim Thomas to cap a series that featured the Bruins’ offense doing a Houdini-like disappearing act – will have a long time to become engraved on our brains.

But even the end of this lockout, whenever that is, won’t erase memories of Boston’s ill-fated, short-lived attempt to defend the 2011 Stanley Cup championship. Because with a series of signings over the summer of 2012, capped by a three-year, $18 million deal inked with Milan Lucic on Saturday, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has officially kept the band together for the next NHL season and beyond.

Lucic’s new deal came on the heels of  multi-million dollar extensions for Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand just months after the likes of Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille also decided to make a Boston return over multiple years. Only goaltender Tuukka Rask, among the players the Bruins re-signed this summer, opted for the gamble of a one-year deal. And the evidence of Chiarelli’s easy-spending summer leads one to believe that the one-year deal was more a product of Rask’s desire to become a star and break the bank rather than Boston’s desire to see exactly what it has in the young Finn.

“Again, it goes back to – it was a comment I made the other day, I can’t remember in what forum – it was about the players that you know, you know their idiosyncrasies, you know their assets, they know you, there’s a level of comfort, there’s a level of trust. So, nothing more than that,” said Chiarelli about his decision to re-up with practically the entire roster that earned all of three postseason wins last spring and couldn’t keep the season going past April.

Riding the wave of the 2011, David Krejci, Johnny Boychuk and Shawn Thornton used last season to make long-term commitments to the Bruins. In the case of Krejci, that was a wise move considering how Washington made him look more like David than Goliath in the playoffs.

Chiarelli has now officially cast his lot. He thinks his current cast’s future production will better resemble what he got out of it in 2011 than in 2012. He’s not too concerned about complacency now that everyone boasts the kind of long-term financial commitment us mere mortals only dream of.

In a league where every summer teams that didn’t hoist the Cup typically undergo major changes to rectify their championship-less situation, the Bruins are now locked into a core that won one Cup and then flopped during its repeat drive. Chiarelli now has to hope that, whenever the NHL takes the ice again, the results will resemble the Bruins’ Cup Run more than last year’s disappointing effort.


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