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What’s next for the Flyers after Chuck Fletcher’s firing?

What's next for the Flyers after Chuck Fletcher's firing?

The Philadelphia Flyers fired president of hockey operations and general manager Chuck Fletcher on Friday.

Why was he fired? Who are the top candidates to take his place? And what should be the short- and long-term plans to get the team back on track?

Here’s the current and future state of the Flyers:

Why was Chuck Fletcher let go?

Fletcher was hired in Dec. 2018 to take the team to the next level. Former GM Ron Hextall had populated the roster with young talent. Fletcher, a former GM of the Minnesota Wild, was tasked with doing what was necessary to transform the team into a Stanley Cup contender.

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,” Dave Scott, chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor and Flyers governor, said at the time.

Instead of the Stanley Cup, the Flyers had just one playoff appearance in Fletcher’s tenure, making the second round in 2020 during the pandemic bubble playoffs.

How much of that lack of success was Fletcher’s fault? It’s reasonable to debate. Scott even mentioned “challenges” in his comments announcing Fletcher’s firing.

“Chuck faced significant challenges during his time as president and general manager, including some that were outside of his control, but we have reached a point at which we must move in a different direction and look to the future under new leadership,” Scott said.

He’s not wrong:

  • Nolan Patrick, the 2017 No. 2 overall pick, was a bust because of injuries and other ailments before being traded.

  • Players like Selke Trophy winner Sean Couturier were also slowed by injuries.

  • Forward Oskar Lindblom was diagnosed with cancer.

  • Key defenseman Matt Niskanen surprised the team by retiring in 2020.

  • Ryan Ellis, the defenseman Fletcher acquired from Nashville to basically replace Niskanen, has played just four games with the Flyers since arriving in July 2021.

  • Goalie Carter Hart went from building a Vezina Trophy case to rebuilding his game back to respectability during Fletcher’s tenure.

Every button Fletcher pushed seemed to malfunction. Meanwhile, powerful voices within the organization were encouraging the team to make moves that also haven’t panned out, like long-term contracts to some veteran players.

That’s not to excuse Fletcher. One playoff appearance is unacceptable and the current state of the team is…

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