Timeline: Why is Chuck Fletcher still here?
There’s one thing that all Philadelphia Flyers fans agree on: Firing Chuck Fletcher.
Chuck Fletcher and the Flyers organization have reached new lows and it has gotten so bad that you barely see his face across any type of media that’s still brave enough to talk about the Flyers while every other sports team and fanbase in Philadelphia are busy trying to win championships in their respective leagues.
Yet Fletcher, while seemingly being shadow banned from even appearing in public, is still employed.
How is this even possible?
2018-19: The Beginning of Chuck Fletcher
Chuck Fletcher took over the Flyers general manager position in December of 2018, and made an immediate impact by trading away fan favorite Wayne Simmonds, while calling up Carter Hart in what would be the beginning of his NHL career. He also fired Dave Hakstol, which felt like a glorious day in the fanbase, and then drafted Cam York as his first selection with the GM title.
I’ll give him props for that. Carter Hart was still very young in a league that slowly develops goalies, but it paid off.
Since taking over Chuck Fletcher has traded Jordan Weal, Taylor Leier, Dale Weise, Christian Folin, Anthony Stolarz, Wayne Simmonds, and Radko Gudas. He also fired Dave Hakstol, waived Jori Lehterä, bought out Andrew MacDonald and called up Carter Hart and Phil Myers.— Michael (@michaelkinky) June 19, 2019
Despite how we feel about Ron Hextall’s tenure as GM, it’s undeniable that he left Chuck Fletcher with plenty of tools to work with. The 2018-19 season was looked at as an outlier down year with poor goaltending, but with Fletcher at the helm, it was time to move forward as an organization and focus on the future.
2019-20: The REAL Outlier
The Flyers brought in a seasoned head coach in Alain Vigneault who was historically known for turning a team around quickly with a successful first year. Fletcher traded for Kevin Hayes, Matt Niskanen, Justin Braun, and Tyler Pitlick. It was clear they wanted 2019-20 to be a winning year with the Giroux core.
As it turned out… it played out that way.
The team slowly grew into a powerhouse in a division full of killers with players like Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, and Ivan Provorov building a promising future for the Flyers. They easily had a playoff spot locked up and you could feel the energy coming back to the Wells Fargo Center.
The narrative at the time was that they earned the right for the team to buy at the deadline, and it was rewarded with two disappointing additions in Nate Thompson and Patrick Brown. In hindsight, we should have known then and there that this wasn’t sustainable, but the Flyers just kept winning.
It’s now 3:00 p.m. New trades won’t happen, but can still be announced. As of now Flyers have acquired Nate Thompson & Derek Grant— Flyers Nation (@PHLFlyersNation) February 24, 2020
It was all going well until a global pandemic took the nation by storm, essentially bringing sports to a complete halt for nearly five months. One of our best regular seasons in the last decade was just ripped away right in front us. The NHL started the playoffs in August in a Toronto bubble tournament, but obviously, that didn’t have the same feel as a regular playoff game.
Carter Hart was the one of the only players to consistently show up in the playoffs carrying us to a second round Game 7 against the New York Islanders. The year was written off as a step forward with their eyes set on winning in 2020-21.
2020-21: The 56-game Metro Gauntlet
This is when disaster struck.
Matt Niskanen surprisingly retired leaving Chuck Fletcher panic-stricken to find another defenseman which ended up being Erik Gustafsson.
Matt Niskanen’s agent answering Chuck every night after Fletcher thought singing Erik Gustafsson was enough this off-season pic.twitter.com/PtJ568zogG— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) March 7, 2021
Provorov, Konecny, Hart all regressed and the Flyers missed the playoffs in a shortened 56 game season. Chuck Fletcher gambled on this core with young players and it failed miserably.
What was his response to this? He doubled down.
2021-22: Rock Bottom
The offseason leading into 2021-22 was when Chuck Fletcher fired all of his bullets and desperately tried to salvage the Giroux era. Couturier was extended to an eight-year deal, the 14th overall pick was given up for Rasmus Ristolainen, and Jakub Voracek was traded for Cam Atkinson.
Nolan Patrick was traded for Ryan Ellis who to this day has only played 5 games in a Flyers’ uniform and somehow in all of that chaos, Fletcher managed to slip in a no-move clause to Keith Yandle.
Philadelphia went 25-46-11 and everything went wrong.
Vigneault was fired midseason and Claude Giroux was traded to the Florida Panthers for a 2024 1st and Owen Tippett.
Claude Giroux pots his first goal in the playoffs as a Florida Panther. pic.twitter.com/uT6AEBC9qm— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) May 4, 2022
All signs pointed towards blowing the Flyers organization up and completely starting over by undergoing their own version of the Sixers’ “Process” by stacking up high draft selections. However, Chuck Fletcher went on ESPN and said they would “aggressively retool” and that they still believe in this team.
Ristolainen was extended within that time period as well and he seriously tripled down.
2022-23: The Present
Our “aggressive retool” is seriously TDA + A Minnesota 4th liner…— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) July 21, 2022
Wild to me
Philadelphia started the offseason by hiring John Tortorella through a hiring agency and not their GM. Tony DeAngelo was signed to a 2-year deal and all eyes were on South Jersey native Johnny Gaudreau.
James Van Riemsdyk was shopped around in an effort to shed salary but Fletcher failed and immediately tried to play it off as if they didn’t try. It suddenly became a “stabilizing year” yet they hired a winning coach and signed a top scoring defenseman.
It felt like damage control.
Fletcher pointed to the “cap issues” being the problem, failing to realize that he was the one who created that problem in the first place. He went all-in three times spending to the cap ceiling, only for the team to be painfully boring and mediocre.
Travis Sanheim was then given an eight-year extension, causing a complete log jam on the defensive roster with high investments on average players.
We’re 52 games into the season and the Flyers are one game under .500.
It isn’t as bad as last year, but I wouldn’t call it a fun year either.
It can be argued that the only reason this season is watchable is due to the efforts of John Tortorella who was hired through a third-party, so that credit doesn’t even go to Fletcher.
Chuck Fletcher was given a team who wanted to take steps towards winning with a legend in Claude Giroux. He went all in three times and failed badly. Was there some bad luck regarding the pandemic and injuries? Sure, but all the great teams adapt and survive through that.
They also don’t make the same mistakes over and over again. How many offseasons of signing depth players over difference makers do you need before you realize it doesn’t work? He re-signed almost all of Hextall’s guys and never truly made the changes he was hired to make.
The most surprising part of it all is the ownership’s commitment to Chuck Fletcher.
I’ve never seen a GM given this much leeway with no reputation to back it up. He throws the organization into a complete rock bottom and I’m supposed to trust him to get us out?
This trade rumor talk is fun and all but we don’t watch Chuck Fletcher touching this roster.— TLY (@TheLibertyYell) January 10, 2023
Something has to give. None of this seems right. The upcoming trade deadline and draft have huge implications on the future of our franchise and I don’t trust Chuck Fletcher in that position. It’s a layup PR move to give the position to Danny Briere while keeping Chuck Fletcher onboard and it has been rumored since November.
It can’t happen soon enough. I believe in some of the draft selections of Chuck Fletcher but if that’s all we wanted out of him then we would’ve kept Ron Hextall.
The tenure of Chuck Fletcher can be summed up as just boring. Some GMs dig themselves in by chasing high end talent too much, yet with Fletcher it was death by a thousand 5×5 middling contracts. A mediocre GM to cap off a mediocre decade of hockey.
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Mandatory Credit: Philly Hockey Now