VOORHEES, N.J. — Chuck Fletcher formally accepted the Flyers' general manager job Sunday, arrived Monday, introduced himself to the players Tuesday and held his first formal press conference Wednesday.
Here are the five important takeaways from Fletcher's first media gathering:
Holmgren interviewed 7 to 8 candidates
There were a few candidates that actually had general managerial experience. It's believed Flyers president Paul Holmgren spoke with former Carolina GM Ron Francis but it was important to find the GM who could hit the ground running.
Very few general managers are hired in-season, so it was critical to find the right candidate to be able to step in and make the necessary moves in a short amount of time. It was reported that Dave Nonis and Bill Zito were also in the mix.
“It kind of just comes out in the interview,” Holmgren said. “I had good interviews with four or five different people. I just thought moving forward, that Chuck was the best guy.”
Fletcher could be active during road trip
Moving forward, there will be more of a collaborative effort to discuss the necessary moves, but Fletcher said upper management has given him full autonomy to make the hockey-related decisions.
Fletcher won’t be attending the Flyers' game Saturday in Buffalo, but he will accompany the team Sunday in Winnipeg and throughout the Western Canada trip over the course of next week, when he will have a better understanding of where things need to improve moving forward (see story).
“I don’t know if I’ll make a trade today or tomorrow," Fletcher said. "I can’t imagine I’ll make one in the next couple of days. First order of business is to look for in-house solutions. You have to give people a chance. Players, staff, everybody, but if things aren’t working and we’re not gaining traction, then I think you have to look at every angle.”
Don't expect Fletcher to trade top prospects
In speaking with Fletcher in a small group after the press conference, he clearly expects general managers from around the league to inquire into certain players and prospects to gauge if the organization feels differently under a new regime.
“I assume so. I would,” Fletcher said. “There are not many deals where you’re putting your best prospects in the deal. Those are big deals and getting top, top talent back. If people want to throw those deals at me, great. But we’re not looking to trade our top kids, but I’m looking forward to the conversations.”
Big believer in analytics
Ron Hextall created a two-man analytics department, and while Fletcher may want to expand on that staff, it certainly seems to be an area he wants to utilize moving forward.
“I felt we built a pretty good analytics department in Minnesota that we were using more and more,” Fletcher said. “When I talk about process, it was part of the process.”
Analytics are tricky in that each organization values and strategically analyzes data differently. Don’t be surprised if over time, Fletcher brings in his own personnel in the analytics department to help in his evaluations (see story).
Hart needs seasoning
Fletcher is already keeping close tabs on the Flyers' top goaltending prospect Carter Hart and mentioned this past weekend's game against the Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies, a 5-2 victory, as a step in the right direction.
“I don’t think it can ever be a one size fits all,” Fletcher said. “I can’t remember many 20-year-old goalies who have played in the NHL.
"I really believe goaltenders need seasoning. I wouldn’t want to bring Carter Hart up right now.”
Fletcher didn’t rule out a promotion later in the season, but if their current goaltenders stay healthy and the Flyers remain competitive, Hart’s opportunity may not come until next season.
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