According to Minnesota Wild insider Michael Russo, Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher has been relieved of his duties by owner Craig Leipold.
Neither Fletcher nor Leipold have confirmed Russo's report, but Russo maintains that his sources within the Wild's coaching staff have confirmed that after 9 season Fletcher WILL NOT be back with the Wild next season.
Brent Flahr, Fletcher's right-hand man since July 2009, and the coaching staff were told by Leipold soon after the meeting that Fletcher won't be back and the players are presently being informed by the owner during a team meeting.
Russo also reports that, until a replacement is found, assistant general manager Brent Flahr will assume the GM role temporarily.
UPDATE: Owner Craig Leipold has officially released a statement and confirmed the news himself.
“I want to thank Chuck Fletcher for his substantial contributions to our franchise over the past nine years,” Leipold said in a statement. “Through his strong work ethic, integrity and vision, Chuck and his staff built a winning culture and a perennial playoff team. For all of that I am grateful. I feel it is time for a new approach aimed at delivering a Stanley Cup to the deserving fans of the State of Hockey. I wish Chuck and his family the very best going forward.”
So that confirms it. What do we think, Wild fans? The 51 year old Fletcher was hired in May 2009 and, while he's failed to deliver on his promise of bringing a Stanley Cup to the State of Hockey, it's hard to argue that the Wild haven't been in the mix for most of his tenure. Unfortunately, the Wild just haven't been able to get the job done, despite qualifying for the playoffs almost every season under Fletcher. In fact, Fletcher's biggest undoing might be the fact that the Wild have lose 16 of their last 20 postseason games. No matter how you look at it, that's ugly.
Less than two weeks ago however, Fletcher was reportedly "not worried" about the safety of his job.
“I’m excited about the playoffs,” he said. “The way we lost out last year in the first round, through the summer, and this year, it’s been, you know, it’s been a grind this year. I will admit that. Everyone’s battled hard and this has been I think the toughest one yet in terms of making it and yet we’re in third place (in the Central).
“We didn’t have to go down to the last day, which is great. But it’s been a challenging 12 months for this group and I give them a lot of credit and we will see how it plays out. We’ve got a tough opponent, but it’s always exciting to know you get a chance to see what you can do.”
Unfortunately for Fletcher and the Wild, the team failed to reach expectations yet again.