Updated: 5:53 p.m.
One week after firing general manager Ron Hextall, the Flyers have found the man they hope will finally bring the Stanley Cup back to Philadelphia.
Chuck Fletcher on Monday night was hired by the Flyers to serve as their next executive vice president and general manager.
Fletcher was the front-runner for the position but Flyers president Paul Holmgren wanted to do his due diligence by meeting with Dave Nonis and Bill Zito, both of whom he has respected over the years, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Boruk.
“At the conclusion of a rigorous review of GM candidates, Chuck Fletcher clearly stood out from the field of talented and capable executives we considered,” Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said in a statement released by the team. “Chuck has earned success throughout his impressive NHL career and offers the right mix of expertise, business acumen and leadership qualities that the Flyers need today as we work to achieve our ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup championship.”
Fletcher led the Minnesota Wild for nine seasons, from 2009 to earlier this year when he was let go after a first-round playoff exit. During his time in Minnesota, he showed a willingness to spend big and make moves in free agency. He found the best signing of the 2016 free-agent class when he signed Eric Staal to a three-year deal. Most notably, he brought defenseman Ryan Suter and forward Zach Parise in on identical 13-year, near-$100 million contracts in 2012, moves that altered the course of that franchise — for better or worse.
Then-Flyers GM Holmgren, who was responsible for firing Hextall last week, tried to acquire both Parise and Suter as well back that summer. That’s notable given that Holmgren’s chief reason for firing Hextall was for a lack of aggressiveness in improving the current team. Perhaps he sees in Fletcher what he wasn’t getting in Hextall: the desire to make moves that will hoist the Flyers back into the elite of the Eastern Conference, and to do it sooner rather than later.
"The Flyers are proud to have Chuck Fletcher as the new general manager of our hockey club,” Holmgren said in a statement. “Throughout his career he has helped shape teams that have consistently competed in the playoffs. In addition, Chuck's tireless work ethic, wealth of knowledge and experience in the hockey community will be instrumental in leading our team into the future. I'd like to personally welcome Chuck to the Flyers family."
The biggest knock on Fletcher’s time in Minnesota was his lack of ability to stock the farm system — at least in the latter years of his tenure. Since selecting Matt Dumba in the first round of the 2012 draft, only two NHL regulars were selected by Fletcher’s Wild: winger Alex Tuch and center Joel Eriksson Ek. Tuch isn’t even in Minnesota anymore, as he was poached away by the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 expansion draft. The franchise’s depth is rather weak as a result, and despite Fletcher’s big spending on the free-agent market, the Wild consistently have been a first- or- second-round exit type of team.
Hextall’s tenure will be remembered by drafting and scouting. He refocused the Flyers' organization on the farm system, and there’s no doubt that he has stocked the system with talent. But with Hextall gone — as well as assistant GM Chris Pryor, who previously had been the team’s director of scouting — it will be up to Fletcher to make sure the organizational depth continues to grow.
"It is an honor to join the Flyers, an iconic NHL franchise, and I would like to thank Dave Scott and Paul Holmgren for entrusting me to guide the team forward,” Fletcher said in a statement. “Adding to my excitement is the high level of talent that is in place, which sets this opportunity apart and will pay dividends as we move the organization ahead and ultimately compete for a championship.”
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