Fletcher: ‘Opportunity to Be GM of Flyers a Dream Come True’
It appears the Flyers knew who their guy was all along. On the day Ron Hextall was fired as GM, the early name in the running to replace him was Chuck Fletcher.
Fletcher was officially named the ninth GM of the Flyers on Monday, the first from outside the organization in 28 years since Russ Farwell.
Fletcher, 51, spent nine seasons as the GM in Minnesota and expressed his excitement to become the GM of the Flyers in a conference call with the media on Monday night.
"I’m extremely honored and humbled that Paul Holmgren and Dave Scott chose me to be the next general manager of the Philadelphia Flyers," Fletcher said. "I’ve been in the game for many years and the Flyers have been one of the standard bearers of the National Hockey League, and one of the best franchises. To have the opportunity to be the general manager of the Flyers is a dream come true."
Fletcher has a lot of work ahead of him as the new GM of the Flyers. From the current roster, which was supposed to be experiencing more success at this point in the process of building a content, to the coaching staff and other front office decisions, Fletcher has a lot on his plate moving forward. For now, he enters with two things the Flyers wanted, an outside perspective and previous experience as a GM.
"I think the first thing I would say, in all candidness, we have a very strong group of young players, prospect, we have nine draft picks this year, an extra third, an extra seventh, we do have cap space. Those are all resources that you can use to make your team better," Fletcher said. "For me, I think right now looking at this club from outside, and again I’ll dig into it more in the coming weeks, there’s no reason why we can’t be a playoff team now, and going forward I think we’ll continue to get better.
"You want to compete in the present, and you’ve got to be respectful of making sure you have a strong team for the future. But there’s great resources in place here, and it’s a very fortunate position to be in."
The coaching staff is obviously a big question and Dave Hakstol is right at the forefront of it. Usually a new GM likes to bring in his own coaching staff. For Fletcher, the situation is a little different. GM changes and hires are not usually made in season like this one. Fletcher realizes this, and wants to simply look at everything.
"I’ve known Dave for a while. I met Dave a few times while he was at North Dakota. He did a tremendous job at North Dakota," Fletcher said. "His teams always got better as the season went on. When you had a player that was drafted by your organization that attended North Dakota, they always got better, they always developed. So I have a lot of respect for what he’s accomplished in his career.
"I’m just coming in. I’m a big believer in trying to get to know a situation before making a reaction. I’d like to think we can solve a lot of the issues that have plagued the team this year and find a way to get better. I certainly have no intention of making a coaching change tomorrow. I’m going to meet with Dave and we’re going to try to work together and push.
"Our goal is to try to make the playoffs this year, it’s that simple. We have work to do, and it’ll be a challenge. But there’s no reason why we can’t get better, and we can’t push to make the playoffs and find a way to get in."
Fletcher did start off by acknowledging the work that Hextall did in bringing in pieces and prospects, building up the farm system and creating cap space, all resources that he now has to his disposal to make the team better.
Fletcher certainly wants to get a feel for the situation he inherits, but noted that he's not going to "ease into" the job by any stretch.
"We’re 25 games in, there’s still a lot of runway left in the season, but the season also gets old pretty quickly," Fletcher said. "I would like to see what solutions we have to some of our problems and see if we have some of those solutions in-house, see if we have some solutions internally. We’re 29th in the league in goals against right now, and obviously there’s been a lot of injuries to the goaltending, there’s been a lot of uncertainty in that position.
"Clearly we need to give up fewer goals. There’s no doubt about that. So how do we go about that? The first thing for me is I’d like to sit down with the coaches and let’s see what we can do. How can we improve? If we can’t find the solutions internally, then I certainly will look externally and do what we can to improve the team."
Fletcher is expected to meet the media on Wednesday for an official introductory press conference, where there may be more detailed answers or Fletcher will have a better read on the situation. That said, he knows the work that lies ahead and is ready to tackle the challenge.
"I’m looking forward to sitting down with the coaches very shortly and getting to meet the players. I plan on meeting with the players and staff [Tuesday] and talking generally about expectations," Fletcher said. "It’s a good group coming in from the outside, but certainly I’m going to take some time here to get to know them much better."
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.