How much of Ron Hextall's work will Chuck Fletcher undo?


VOORHEES, N.J. — If he felt so inclined, Chuck Fletcher could walk in and rip out the carpet, repaint the walls and tear down the drapes. 

The Flyers' newest general manager has been given full autonomy by upper management to make the alterations that are more aligned with the organization’s style of winning hockey. 

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much that Fletcher wants to change. 

“The cupboard is full. There are a tremendous amount of prospects,” Fletcher said Wednesday at his introductory press conference. “This year, we have nine draft picks — we have an extra third and an extra seventh. We have cap space and we have good players. There’s everything here to be successful and that’s our goal and that’s what we’re going to do. It’s set up for success.”

Clearly, Ron Hextall left Fletcher in a much more tenable position in terms of cap space and prospects than Paul Holmgren left Hextall in 2014. But Fletcher will also be carrying out the wishes of upper management, who have expressed a desire to win this season, and not kick that can down the road to 2020, or whenever Hextall felt the time was conveniently right.

Expect Fletcher to be a hybrid of Holmgren and Hextall — the difference between a Wall Street day trader and a financial analyst who admires his 401(k) statements.  

“I’m a big believer in you need all three phases to build a championship team," Fletcher said. "Again, mainly the draft, but you also have to use trades and free agency. You have to have good people, everybody has to be pulling the same way. I do think culture is very important in any organization to be successful.”

If culture is important, then that would seemingly work into Wayne Simmonds' favor. 

One has to believe that Simmonds' future will be discussed thoroughly on the decision to reward him with a new contract or utilize him in a trade that could help mold the Flyers into a more well-rounded team defensively. 

However, what remains clear throughout Fletcher’s nine-year tenure in Minnesota is that his trades don’t look nearly as favorable as some of his free-agent signings.

“When the time is right, we will get to the contract,” Fletcher said. “But certainly there will be a lot of work starting right away in terms of getting to know the file, getting to know the individual, communicating with the agent, and who knows when there’s a fit. But we’ll keep pushing.”

Don’t expect the roster to be overhauled, but that’s only the start. 

Fletcher will also have to determine how much input he wants in just about every facet of the organization. It was Hextall who brought in a dietician to control what players ate. It was Hextall who created a sports science department to improve performance outcomes. And it was Hextall who started an analytics department to use advanced metrics in analyzing player data. 

“I think it’s all critical,” Fletcher said. “We had a pretty good analytics department in Minnesota that we were using more and more. And when I talk about process, that was part of the process. Maybe some areas I’ll tweak a little bit, just from personal preference. But there’s been a lot of thought into building this organization and it’s in a good place.”

All of which leads you to think the profound change Holmgren and Dave Scott were looking for was simply more inclusion from their general manager.  

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