Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: chuck fletcher
from Michael Russo of the StarTribune,
There was something perfectly fitting about Chuck Fletcher talking to a swarm of reporters inside the Hornet’s Nest on Sunday morning.
Now that Mike Yeo has been fired as coach of the Wild with the objective of lighting a match under this extinguished hockey club, the spotlight now shines on the general manager. Inside Edina High School’s locker room at Braemar Arena, Fletcher talked about his culpability with a team that in five weeks has plummeted from seventh in the NHL to 22nd -- and has fallen five points out of a playoff spot.
“I take full ownership. I’ve hired the coaches. I’ve brought the players in,” said Fletcher, in his seventh season as Wild GM. “So, obviously, when you’re the general manager, you’re accountable for everything. I take full ownership.
“We let a very good person go and as I told the group [Sunday], that's an indictment on all of us.”
Not long after Saturday’s loss to Boston – the Wild’s eighth consecutive defeat, eighth in a row at home and 13th in 14 games since beating Dallas on Jan. 9, Fletcher broke the news to Yeo inside the coach’s office.
Fletcher said the gut-wrenching decision was his, although there’s no doubt he felt pressured by owner Craig Leipold, who has found the results in the New Year unacceptable. The Wild has won three of 19 games in 2016.
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Fletcher said, “We need to find out what our team really is. I’ve been waiting for the answers to come from the inside. I’ve been calling around for weeks. It’s not easy to get teams to sell players early. Most teams are still in and we’ve been waiting and hoping that the answers would come from within, but we’re at a very critical time right now. We’ve got to stabilize here. We’ve got to find a way to win a game and start to play the right way. You’re not just going to snap your fingers and everything’s going to get back to normal, but we’ve shown at points of this year we’re a good hockey team, we have good players, we have good coaches and we need to find a way to become a good team again. Right now we’re not a good team and this is a small step. Everybody’s lost confidence and that happens when you go through these stretches.
“I thought it was time for me to give this team a shot in the arm and we’ll keep trying. We’ll see if we can add more pieces. If we can do it great, but it has to come from the inside too and maybe this is a spark they need to get going.
“I think Mike’s a good coach, and I think we have a good team. But right now we’re in a perilous position for our season and we have to win some games. We’re capable of doing it. But we have to stabilize here. We’ll see where it takes us. We’ve got to get going. We’re better than this. It’s time. It’s more than time.”
Fletcher again said that Yeo is safe.
“We’ve got an overall performance issue here,” he said. “I’m not looking at Mike at all right now. He’s our coach. He’s a good coach.”
From the Minneapoils Star-Tribune's Michael Russo:
Thanks to Josh Harding’s broken foot, Darcy Kuemper got his one-way contract. On the eve of players taking the ice for the first time, the Wild conceded in its standoff with its young goalie by signing Kuemper to a two-year, $2.5 million contract.
“I’m super excited to continue this journey with the Wild and can’t wait to see and get back on the ice with my teammates,” Kuemper said in a text message.
The move comes a day after veteran Ilya Bryzgalov agreed to a tryout and hours after General Manager Chuck Fletcher met with Harding to try to establish how he got injured in an off-ice incident Sunday involving an altercation with a teammate.
Soon after the meeting, Fletcher made the decision to suspend Harding. During the time he recovers, Harding won’t be paid a prorated portion of his $2.1 million salary and he won’t count against the Wild’s salary cap. The paperwork was filed and all parties were notified late Thursday.
In the meantime, Fletcher said Thursday night that Kuemper’s signing won’t affect Bryzgalov’s tryout. If Kuemper’s not one of the top-2 goalies in training camp, the Wild can sign Bryzgalov and assign Kuemper to Iowa of the American Hockey League without waivers.
On Saturday, the Hockey News's Adam Proteau posted the first installment of a two-part "oral history" of the Calgary Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup run, and he continues today with more behind-the-scenes tales from the Flames' Cup win in the Montreal Forum and its aftermath:
Delirious with joy, the Flames boarded their plane for the flight back to Calgary. They would all go on to enjoy incredible NHL careers, but for those precious few hours, they celebrated as one extended family.
CLIFF FLETCHER My son and daughter were on the plane with me. We had a special passenger, too: It wasn’t supposed to be allowed, but it just so happened the Stanley Cup was in that cabin with us.
AL MACINNIS We knew that was our one time as a team – from managers, to coaches, to trainers, to players – to really just be together for those few hours and take in the moment. That was a pretty special time, and quite a plane ride.
COLIN PATTERSON One of my favorite pictures from the flight is myself, Joel Otto and Lanny: We were sitting in one row and we’d just got the Cup. We were just so excited to have it.
THEO FLEURY I think I passed out on the plane hugging the Cup.
DOUG GILMOUR The only disappointing part of it was we ran out of beer before we took off. Whatever was available after that point – liquor, wine, whatever – was what we drank. We didn’t really care at that point.
TERRY CRISP We sat with our wives in the front of the plane; the players were in the back with the Cup. It was great because you could just sit and listen to the guys back there. And it really was just the team. Nobody could interfere with you. Until you land, it’s yours. When you’re up in the clouds – as you deserved to be, because you just knocked off one of the best in the business, in the Mecca of hockey – you get to enjoy it.
The Hockey News's Adam Proteau has penned the first of a two-part "oral history" chronicling the Calgary Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup win, and it never ceases to amaze me how very heavily Cup-winners are challenged in the playoff round that Scotty Bowman insisted is the most dangerous round:
For the second year in a row, the Flames had finished the regular season with the NHL’s top record. In 1988, they’d won their first-round series against the Kings, only to be swept by the Edmonton Oilers in the Smythe Division final. Two years earlier, they’d made it to the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, falling to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.
But in 1989 – their second year with Terry Crisp as head coach – the Flames proved a more resilient squad. And they had to be right away; In their opening-round series against Vancouver (a team that finished with 43 fewer points in the standings that season), Calgary lost key defenseman Gary Suter in the first game with a broken jaw, then found themselves pushed to the brink of elimination as the Canucks forced a heart-stopping seventh game – and overtime – and yet managed to move on thanks to astounding goaltending from Mike Vernon and the series-winning goal that banked in off Joel Otto’s skate.
TERRY CRISP, HEAD COACH We really dodged a bullet in that first round. You’re that close to being gone and maybe never getting another crack at it. When I look back, I think there must have been a divine destiny somewhere in the first round, because Vancouver took us right to the wall.
CLIFF FLETCHER, GENERAL MANAGER The pressure of the first round nearly did us in. We weren’t the hockey team we had been over the course of the regular season. We were very fortunate to win that series. Mike Vernon had to make three outstanding saves before we managed to shovel a goal late in the first overtime.
AL MACINNIS, DEFENSEMAN If Mike doesn’t make those saves, we don’t move on. But when we got by Vancouver, that’s when I think that pressure was relieved from us, and we felt just felt that, ‘Man, we’re really on our way.’ After that, we lost three games total in the next three series.
TERRY CRISP After that, the guys just put it into gear and away we went.
ESPN's Katie Strang held a chat on ESPN.com today, and the first two questions of said chat touched upon meaty topics:
Ed (Queens Village): If you had to pick 1 this season Kings repeat as Cup Champs or Red Wings miss playoffs for 1st time this century?
Katie Strang: Well, I really do not like ever doubting the Wings. That record speaks for itself and the club has a well-earned reputation for its winning culture. That said, I think the chances of them missing are far greater than a Kings repeat. Winning a Cup takes so many elements beyond great personnel and a bevvy of talent. It takes grit, depth and yes, some luck. Especially during the salary-cap era, dynastic teams are harder to come by. Anything can happen in the East though I am banking on Wings making it again this year,
Michael (Minnesota): If you were Chuck Fletcher, what would you do with your goalie situation? Are you tempted to sign Brodeur?
Katie Strang: If I were Chuck Fletcher I'd be extremely concerned about my goaltending situation. I know he said publicly that there will be training camp competition with Harding, Backstrom and Kuemper but I wouldn't feel too confident with that. That's why, since the trade deadline, many assumed Brodeur would be a great fit there. His sons also play at famed hockey prep school Shattuck St. Mary's in Fairbault, MN. Makes a lot of sense. But I think Brodeur is holding out for potentially an injury situation that opens a spot up.
The theory was that very few free agent players were actually going to meet with teams' coaches or general managers during the "wining and dining period"--which ends today--because the draft's location in Philadelphia would yield too much of a hubbub (see: players being chased down by the media as they go from hotel to hotel and meeting room to meeting room)...
But the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that the seemingly inevitable marriage between Thomas Vanek and the Minnesota Wild will get a meet-and-greet kick in the pants on Monday:
With the free-agent market set to open Tuesday at 11 a.m. [Central Daylight Time], pending free agent Thomas Vanek was scheduled to sit down with Wild coach Mike Yeo late Sunday. General Manager Chuck Fletcher was not expected to be at the meeting.
For more than a year, Vanek has seemed destined to sign with the Wild. The 30-year-old former Gophers star turned down lucrative long-term contracts last season with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders in order to become a free agent.
However, the Wild appears set to offer Vanek only a short-term contract, so he likely will have a tough decision to make Tuesday because it’s expected that he’ll have the chance to sign longer-term deals for more money with other teams.
But wait, there's more, especially in the, "WILD WILL SIGN EVERYBODEYZ" category:
One really begets the other here, so bear with me:
Via Chris Nichols, Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher spoke with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo about the free agent wining and dining period, which is clearly very good in terms of sensing the "fit" for players with various organizations, but isn't necessarily fascinating in terms of the way that it's driving players' "market values" into the stratosphere...
Cue Fletcher: “I’ve had the opportunity to speak with several agents of pending UFAs and try to get a sense of who may have interest in coming to Minnesota and talk about different roles and whether what we have to offer them fits from a role and an ice time standpoint with what they’re looking at. There’s been some ones that may work out, there’s been some ones that clearly won’t work out. But that’s good. I wasn’t really involved in the shopping period last year, but it’s been great. It gives you the sense where instead it used to be July 1 it was such a battle to sign guys. You were competing with other teams to sign players. It wasn’t like you were spending time interviewing players to get their idea of an ideal role. We weren’t having these conversations you might assume we were having. A lot of times you had to make quick decisions and you were throwing money around. So the great thing about the shopping period is you can say, hey this is what we have. This is the type of role. This is the type of fit. Does that interest you?”
And the lack of consensus as to who-goes-where from picks 1 to 4 to the utter mess of players who could be drafted anywhere from 5th to 40th means that we could see a flurry of trades to move up and/or down (and a first round that takes four or five hours starting tonight at 7), as NHL.com's Dan Rosen notes...
When player agent Neil Sheehy's left International Falls, Minnesota prior to the draft, you know the wining and dining period is underway. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's Michael Russo reports that the WIld plan on speaking to the agent who once got a free flight back home (after the Wild and Red Wings made their pitches to Ryan Suter) by owner Craig Leipold on Thursday in Philly, and it sounds like the Wild are aiming for the free agent stars:
It’s not believed the Wild had any formal sit-downs yet, but General Manager Chuck Fletcher contacted at least the agents of defensemen Matt Niskanen and Willie Mitchell, goal scorer Thomas Vanek and center Paul Stastny, NHL sources confirmed. At a minimum, Fletcher is expected to meet with Niskanen’s agent, Neil Sheehy, and Vanek’s agent, Steve Bartlett, while they’re all in Philadelphia this week for the NHL draft.
Vanek, 30, the former Gophers star who lives in Stillwater, might have to consider a one- to three-year deal from the Wild if he wants to play at home in Minnesota.
That’s because it’s clear the Wild has significant interest in Niskanen, who lives in Tower, Minn. The 27-year-old right-shot blue-liner had a career year with the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring 10 goals and finishing 13th among defensemen with 46 points. He led all defensemen with a plus-33 rating.
The question is whether Vanek would forgo potential long-term security elsewhere for the opportunity to stay in Minnesota. After all, he turned down a seven-year, $49 million contract offer from the Islanders last season and an even more lucrative offer from the Sabres.
Continued with talk about Willie Mitchell returning to Minnesota, and again, Russo reported that the players represented by top agents probably won't be in Philadelphia (though it would not surprise me if a little man in a top hat calling himself AnDay OyleBay makes an appearance ), it appears to be time for each and every team interested in a free agent to talk contract...Cheesesteak.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
A lot of general managers will say they look at the Detroit Red Wings as the model for consistency as a franchise. As a younger GM with experience working in the League for several teams, does that play with you as well and do you want to model your team after the Red Wings?
"I think so, but it's a pretty tough path to duplicate their success. Their success has been phenomenal going back over two decades of just winning. But when you think of Detroit, you think of how well they draft and how well they develop. A lot of teams draft well, but not every team develops the players well after they draft them. The way Detroit develops players is tremendous. They don't rush their players. They make them take all the necessary steps to get to the NHL. You look every year, they have good young talent. It's just phenomenal.
"I don't think we're anywhere near what the Red Wings have done, but certainly that's what we're trying to do. In today's day and age you have to develop your own talent. It's just too hard to find top talent. I mean, we were fortunate to sign Parise and Suter, but you can't expect to go into the market and get the top players every summer; it just doesn't work that way -- so you really have to draft well and you have to develop your own talent. In a salary-cap system you have to make sure you have good young players that can contribute playing every year. It's just a necessity in the salary cap world."
more Q & A...
from Ben Goessling of the Pioneer Press,
Though the Wild are in the midst of the worst three-month stretch in franchise history, finishing the 2011-12 season with a roster decimated by injuries, it appears their leadership structure will remain intact.
Both general manager Chuck Fletcher and coach Mike Yeo will return for the 2012-13 season, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
The third-year GM and the rookie coach oversaw the Wild’s rise to the league’s best record in December, culminating with a franchise-record seventh consecutive road win against Phoenix on Dec. 10. Injuries soon caught up with a team already challenged to score goals, however, and the Wild have gone 9-22-7 since then.
Ask any Minnesota Wild fan what has been the most impressive highlight of Chuck Fletcher’s reign as GM, and the answer you get back will most likely revolve around the influx of new talent in our farm system. Mikael Granlund, Johan Larsson, and Jonas Brodin highlight a recent draft haul that now includes newly acquired (via trade) Charlie Coyle - all of whom give hope and optimism for the near future of our team.
With good reason too. When Fletcher arrived in our state in 2009, the cupboard was essentially bare. Former general manager Doug Risebrough had attempted to placate a demanding fan base by going into “win now” mode, even though history proves that very few NHL expansion franchises have immediate success. Sure, the unexpected run to the 2003 Western Conference Finals had St. Paul buzzing - but poor roster structure and a short-term vision would cause the Wild to be stuck in the mud for several years.
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
...Fletcher has sent a message to players and fans that he embraces the repairman function of his job.
Sure, every GM is trying to draft and plan for future success, but this is the salary cap era and there is no patience for five-year rebuilding plans. And there shouldn’t be, not when two-thirds of NHL teams are spending roughly the same amount of money for their rosters. You have to change up your roster on the fly. The mandate in the salary cap era is to rebuild and repair at the same time.
That’s why I like that Fletcher is showing aggressiveness in Minnesota. He succeeded Doug Risebrough, a true gentleman, highly respected around the league, but conservative in his approach to managing a team.
When Risebrough was in charge, it seemed as if the franchise never was able to escape the expansion team mentality. The Wild always seemed to be looking to be competitive up the road, instead of today.
Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants does an extended Q & A with the Wild GM.
Q: Have you thought about whether Havlat will play with Koivu or maybe Bouchard? Also, Havlat’s biggest problem might be his willingness to go into the gritty areas. Is there a way to help keep him healthy by putting him with a digging winger like Clutterbuck or Owen Nolan?
A: We’ve talked about lots of different scenarios if the roster looked like this and that, but it’ll be important to see who he finds chemistry with right off the bat. But you’ve hit the nail on the head. Havlat’s a competitive player. He’s a player who plays hard every game and because of his skill level, he attracts the attention of other team’s best defenders. Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. It’s no different than Gaborik or Crosby or Malkin or Ovechkin. These high-skilled guys compete hard every night and get into situations that lead to injury.