With the imminent hire of Chuck Fletcher to replace Ron Hextall as the Flyers general manager, most seem cautious about welcoming the former Wild GM into the franchise. Even though there is some history that should be concerning, It shouldn’t be time to panic just yet.
Chuck Fletcher assumed power as the Minnesota Wild general manager on May 22, 2009 after Doug Risebrough was relieved of his duties after a decade of service. The Wild did not qualify for the playoffs during the first three years of his tenure. They managed to claim the eighth seed in the 2013 playoffs, but were dispatched in five games by the Blackhawks. Minnesota managed to make it into the second round for consecutive seasons but, again, were eliminated by the Blackhawks both years. The last three years under Fletcher saw three first round exits to the Stars, Blues, and Jets respectively.
This fact alone is enough to turn off Flyers fans after the Flyers themselves have failed to make it out of the first round in six years, and haven’t passed the second since their Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2010.
Another major category that worries Flyers fans is trades. It’s easy to focus on the bad, but there have been plenty of good. The following six are the one that stick out the most.
2009 1st- (Nick Leddy), 2009 3rd (Matt Hackett), 2009 7th (Erik Haula) for a 2009 1st (Calvin De Haan)
Nino Niederreiter for Cal Clutterbuck and a 2013 3rd (Eamon McAdam)
Devan Dubnyk for a 2015 3rd (Brendan Warren)
Cam Barker for Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy
Burns, 2012 2nd (Pontus Aberg) for Charlie Coyle, Devin Setuguchi, 2011 1st (Zack Phillips)
Martin Hanzal, Ryan White, 2017 4th (Mason Shaw) for Grayson Downing, 2017 1st (Pierre-Oliver Joseph), 2018 3rd (Kevil Dahl), 2019 conditional 4th
Those are just six of the 47 trades that happened under Fletcher’s eye, and most aren’t as damning as you’d think. Most Flyers fans get worried about trades given the major missteps of past general managers, but Fletcher shouldn’t be quite as trigger happy as those before him.
When you think about the Minnesota Wild over the past decade, I’m sure the first thing you think of are the huge contracts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, signed to identical 13-year, $98 million dollar deals in the summer of 2012. They signed their massive deals in Minnesota, but it’s important to remember their contract are only that high because of the Flyers, who reportedly offered them 12-year, $80 million deals before they signed with the Wild. So yeah, the Wild may have been the winners of a pair of good players with huge contracts, but it is not like Fletcher made those moves unprovoked.
While Fletcher has his baggage, the overall the concern level should be rather low. It’s probably safe to say we will never see another 13-year contract in the NHL again. Bad trades are an unfortunate, though avoidable, part of the game that has a bitter history for the Flyers. Their playoff history closely mirrors that of the Flyers, but there is at least an excuse on that front as well. They lost to the Blackhawks for three straight years, and two of those years the Hawks would go on to win the Stanley Cup.
There is quite the laundry list of things Fletcher has to attend to, including finding a goaltender, potential changes behind the bench, and making some personnel changes to try to right the Flyers ship. Most won’t happen over night, let alone this season, so it is far too early to write him off, especially given his not-so-negative history.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: NHL.com