As the 2021-22 season starts to wind down and the trade deadline has passed, all eyes are focused on improving the team for next season. One of the biggest questions from the restless fanbase comes down to the fate of general manager Chuck Fletcher, who is quickly running out of good grace from the peanut gallery. With a beloved successor waiting in the wings and a team stuck in the mud under Fletcher’s watch, his performance during the offseason could determine his job security moving forward. In the meantime, what are some of the pros and cons of firing Chuck Fletcher?
Gutting the front office
They fired Alain Vigneault earlier in the season, there’s a good chance Mike Yeo doesn’t come back next season, and they’ve already got Fletcher’s replacement lined up. Removing Fletcher as well can move them past the current era all together.
Even though the current mess that is the Philadelphia Flyers isn’t all on Fletcher, maybe it’s best to think of his time as nothing more than a transition era from Hextall to his future successor. Getting rid of everyone gives the organization a chance at a fresh start, and that may be the most valuable thing you can give the franchise right now.
Opportunity to break up the chain of command
The biggest issue with the current Flyers’ front office is the fact that Fletcher holds the title general manager and president of hockey ops. If they move on from him, it gives ownership a chance to split up those positions. Bring in a new GM and a separate president to add some dynamics to the front office. If they’re on the same page, two voices is always better than one. Worth noting, they don’t have to fire Fletcher to come to this conclusion.
Does Briere do any better?
If the main complaint about Fletcher is being tasked with saving the current group of players while doing so with an overreaching owner, what chance do we give a rookie GM with little experience to handle that situation any better? He may be a fan favorite, thus his leash is longer than Fletcher’s, but the continuing fool’s errand doesn’t put him in a real chance to succeed.
Hiring a new GM and coach in the same summer
If Fletcher gets canned, Briere will take over and will probably have to spend some time finding a new coach, given the strong possibility that Yeo won’t make the cut. When Fletcher was hired he had a few months before the offseason rolled around to find AV. If Fletcher doesn’t get fired until the offseason, Briere will have very little time to decide on a new coach. It’s a lot of work for one summer and it leads to everyone’s favorite phrase…
It’s a phrase we’ve grown to loathe in Flyerland over the last few seasons, and spending another whole summer with a brand new general manager and coaching staff means that the new regime will want to see what kind of goodies they have awaiting for them in Philly. Given how bad the roster has been this year, it really can’t go untouched for another season while the big wigs take in the scenes. Though in Briere’s case, at least he has had the last few months to soak up as much about the team as he could, so he wouldn’t be totally blind, but it’s still not a favorable condition to work under.
If you’re a frequent Brotherly Puck reader, you know when Alain Vigneault got canned, the main question we asked was “what comes next?” and this situation feels very similar. Fletcher has obviously crossed the line of no return in the eyes of the fans, but replacing him with a rookie GM doesn’t feel a bonafide upgrade, but rather the unknown factor and the fan favorite ties Briere has to his advantage at least make it seem like a worthwhile move.
If firing Fletcher was actively on the horizon, it doesn’t make sense to give him the offseason to do whatever he wants then fire him in August or September. If they were to part ways with Fletcher, it would probably happen before the offseason starts, essentially throwing Briere into the deep end immediately. If Fletcher is still General Manager when the regular season comes to an end in late April, expect him to remain in that position until the fruits of his labor determine his fate a few months into the 2022-23 season.
Realistically, he’s got this offseason to save himself. If he can get creative and put a new and competitive roster on the ice next season, he may take some serious heat off of himself. Though on the flipside of the same coin, if he makes big moves and it once again blows up in his face, he probably just sealed his own fate. Chuck Fletcher may be an unpopular man amongst the fans right now, but if he is still the GM of the Flyers at the conclusion of the season, expect him to stick around at least little while longer.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com