Johnny Gaudreau: Chuck Fletcher’s tenure defining failure
It has taken me days to slightly decompress and process the Flyers not going after Johnny Gaudreau in free agency. Followed up with a very poorly worded press conference, July 13th was a dark day for almost all Flyers fans. The more I reflect on it over time, I truly believe this was a tenure defining failure out of Chuck Fletcher.
Johnny Gaudreau is going to Columbus— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 13, 2022
The “Aggressive Retool”
Let’s begin with the direction the fanbase wanted, a rebuild. After years of being directionless and mediocre the 2023 NHL Draft felt like the perfect opportunity to go all in on a rebuild in order to obtain a future star. Chuck Fletcher nixed this idea immediately with talk of a win-now “aggressive retool” plan for the offseason.
Naturally all of us were intrigued at the thought because it was obvious how bad the team had been the last two seasons. I personally believed Chuck Fletcher and Co. were going to make franchise altering decisions that would finally bring excitement to the franchise.
You see when you use hype buzz words like “aggressive retool” or “blank check” in Philadelphia it sets an expectation you better be willing to live up to. We remember these things and hold you accountable when you fall through.
Funniest thing out of all of this… Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher is being handed a soft ball and yet Fletcher is still messing it up. For someone who said it will be “an aggressive retool”, PHI will be eating alot of crow trying to talk their way out of this one. #BringItToBroad— Brandon J. Sommermann (@B_Sommermann) July 13, 2022
It’s July 17th and all we have gotten is Tony DeAngelo, Nic Deslauriers, and Justin Braun… again? How can that be an aggressive retool when we already lost Claude Giroux.
I’m sure Chuck Fletcher’s summer isn’t done and to be honest that’s what scares me the most. The next couple months reek of desperation out of the Flyers to recoup any goodwill they just may have lost. I have zero confidence in this regime at this point in time.
The Hometown Star
Johnny Gaudreau has said he would like to play in Philadelphia since the beginning of his career. Given that he was going to unrestricted free agency and the Flyers lost many core pieces over the years, this checked all of the boxes in an aggressive win now plan.
All of the national media analysts were predicting a Johnny Gaudreau homecoming with confidence. Once Calgary got eliminated in 5 games to Edmonton it started to feel like a real possibility.
Kevin Weekes says Gaudreau will be a Flyer before the Cutter Gauthier pick (via u/guyfromphilly on Reddit) pic.twitter.com/rxcfMvfphi— Follow Crossing Broad (@CBroadBurner) July 8, 2022
After all, three of his greatest friends in the league in Kevin Hayes, Cam Atkinson, and Tony DeAngelo play here. The opportunity to get a 115 point scorer just entering his prime will never be easier with the current state of the franchise.
It also was a layup of a PR win along with the elite talent. The story of Johnny Gaudreau coming home in his prime in an effort to end a 50 year cup drought here would’ve sparked a ton of interest. Tickets and jersey sales would skyrocket and some goodwill would’ve been bought by the Flyers brass. Oh, and you win more hockey games.
Gaudreau signing with Columbus and not New Jersey completely solidifies the fact that he wanted to be in Philadelphia to me. New Jersey was never a player after all as it was clearly not a case of the most money available.
Chuck Fletcher and his Press Conference
After Gaudreau signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets the Flyers held a press conference with GM Chuck Fletcher. Fletcher made it clear they weren’t in on Gaudreau going into free agency and that they were done attempting to sign players.
“We’re pretty confident we’ll be a much more competitive team.”— Jordan Hall (@JHallNBCS) July 13, 2022
– Chuck Fletcher
Everybody knows that was either a lie or a poorly worded way to say I failed to make cap space. The press conference felt like a justification for not getting a big fish while only outing their own faults.
Fletcher pointed to the lack of cap space and the asking price to move a large contract as the reasoning for not being in the running. The problem with this is these are problems he created himself.
Instead of signing Tony DeAngelo with urgency, why not wait?
Instead of saying JVR is a critical part of the franchise before last season, why didn’t you offload him after a decent season alongside Joel Farabee?
Why is our defense taking up around 30 million of our cap while being mediocre at best?
JVR how now prevented the Flyers from drafting Patrick Kane and signing Johnny Gaudreau— evil gritty (@DrEvilGritty) July 13, 2022
Chuck Fletcher is admitting him doing a poor job as the general manager is the reason Philadelphia couldn’t have this moment. When Fletcher took over for Ron Hextall he had an array of cap space and assets to work around with.
The result? Boring moves that only slightly improve our team while overpaying in the process. Johnny Gaudreau felt like the “just get it done” moment of Chuck Fletcher’s tenure after years of failing. Many fans are questioning the point of even paying tickets or tuning in nightly now and rightfully so. The Philadelphia Flyers haven’t made a big splash move in over a decade.
The only question I have now is what plan was ownership sold on? The backlash from this alone has been rightfully hectic and it was their decision to keep him at the helm. I worry for what comes down the line.
Mandatory Credit: NHL.com