MINNEAPOLIS – The Minnesota Wild hired Chuck Fletcher on Thursday to take over as general manager, turning to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ front office to find the second GM in their brief history.
A person with knowledge of the decision confirmed it to The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because an official announcement wasn’t planned until a news conference on Friday. Pittsburgh hosted the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, but Fletcher wasn’t present.
The Penguins declined comment.
Fletcher replaces Doug Risebrough, who held the Wild’s top front-office job from their founding until he was fired in April following eight seasons in charge. Minnesota has advanced past the first round of the playoffs only once, in 2003, and owner Craig Leipold declared a desire for a fresh set of eyes on the franchise when he addressed Risebrough’s dismissal.
The 41-year-old Fletcher, who has been with the Penguins since 2006, is the son of Cliff Fletcher, a Hall of Fame inductee in the builders’ category for his work with several teams, most notably as general manager of the 1989 Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames and later the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The younger Fletcher, a 1990 Harvard graduate, has been groomed for this job for awhile. He spent four years with the Anaheim Ducks as director of hockey operations, assistant GM and vice president of amateur scouting and player development. Before that, he had nine years of experience with the Florida Panthers – including seven as assistant GM and one as interim GM.
Fletcher worked closely with Penguins general manager Ray Shero in all facets of the front office, including scouting, the minor leagues and contract negotiations while being groomed for. Fletcher managed hockey operations for Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
With young stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal leading the way, Pittsburgh has been one of the NHL’s best success stories during the time Shero and Fletcher have worked together. After missing the playoffs for four straight years and threatening to move, the Penguins secured a new arena and made the post-season this spring for the third year in a row – pulling a few wins away from the Stanley Cup finals.
Another candidate for the job, broadcaster Pierre McGuire, wished the team and Fletcher well.
“The Minnesota Wild is a great organization, and they made a great hire in Chuck Fletcher,” he said in a brief interview from Pittsburgh before helping call Game 3.
AP Sports Writer Alan Robinson in Pittsburgh contributed to this report.