The Philadelphia Flyers have fired General Manager Chuck Fletcher. Former Flyer legend Danny Briere will replace him on an interim basis. After another trade deadline that saw the Flyers add nothing of significance and fail to unload any of their bloated contracts, the writing was on the wall for Fletcher, and the axe finally fell this morning.
Fletcher took the helm for the Flyers in 2018 and had been with the team for over four years. In that time, Philadelphia went 141-145-48 (yuck) and only made the playoffs once under his direction. That was in 2020 when the Flyers came up just one game short of reaching the conference finals. However, that season would prove to be an anomaly because shortly after, things started to go off the rails for Fletcher and the Flyers.
After that season, Fletcher was tasked with retooling the team, and he faced a significant numbers crunch that he had brought upon himself. He had previously signed forward Kevin Hayes to a seven-year contract with an annual average salary of $7.14 million; to say Hayes has not lived up to his contract would be an understatement.
Then this past offseason, Fletcher’s biggest move was sending three draft picks to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for embattled defensemen Tony DeAngelo, who he then signed to a two-year deal worth $10 million. DeAngelo was recently suspended for two games for spearing Tampa Bay Lightning forward Cory Perry in a very sensitive area.
Fletcher followed that up with a dud of a 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, where he failed to unload James van Riemsdyk’s hefty contract, despite significant interest in the power forward. His next move instead, was to add Brendan Lemieux from the Los Angeles Kings. It’s almost like he was trying to compile a roster of some of the most hated players in the NHL between Lemieux and DeAngelo.
To be fair to Fletcher, he did face some adversity that was out of control. Three of his four seasons were “COVID years,” but every GM faced those same challenges. Also, star forward Sean Couturier has spent more time on injured reserve with back injuries than he has on the ice. I believe he did make a great move in hiring Head Coach John Tortorella this past summer. But even Torts couldn’t squeeze enough juice out of this current Flyers squad, which has led to a record of 24-30-11 this season. They won’t make the playoffs and aren’t in on the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. Double whammy.
All that said, Fletcher just didn’t do enough to warrant keeping his job, and in my opinion, the Flyers have done the right thing by moving on from him. Cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, would be wise to do the same with their General Manager, Ron Hextall.