Cliff Fletcher

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Cliff Fletcher
Cliff Fletcher.jpg
Born George Clifford Fletcher
(1935-08-16) August 16, 1935 (age 78)
Montreal, QC, CAN
Nationality Canadian
Occupation Senior Advisor to the Toronto Maple Leafs (2008–present)
Known for Former National Hockey League executive and general manager (Calgary Flames, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs)
Children Chuck Fletcher
Kristy Fletcher

George Clifford Fletcher (born August 16, 1935) is a National Hockey League executive and is a former general manager of the Atlanta Flames/Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Phoenix Coyotes. He is currently a Senior Advisor to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some of his nicknames are the "Silver Fox"1 and "Trader Cliff".2

Career

Early positions

Fletcher started his career in 1956 for the Montreal Canadiens as a scout under Sam Pollock, then later became the General Manager of the Verdun Blues junior team.

He joined the expansion St. Louis Blues in 1966 as a scout for Eastern Canada worked his way up to the assistant GM position. With Fletcher's help, the Blues advanced to the Stanley Cup finals in each of their first three years, a feat unmatched to this day.

Fletcher's general manager career started in the Central Hockey League with the Kansas City Blues when he was awarded the top job in January 1971 during a mid-season shake-up that also saw John Choyce appointed as the team's new head coach.3 In 1972, he accepted the opportunity to run an NHL team when offered the GM position in Atlanta.

Flames

Fletcher joined the newly minted expansion Atlanta Flames team as General Manager. After years of financial struggles in Atlanta due to competition from the WHA, he helped organize the team's move to Calgary, Alberta in 1980. Over the next 10 years, he led the Calgary Flames to two Smythe division titles, two Clarence S. Campbell Bowls as Western Conference Champions, and two Presidents' Trophies, given to the team with the best NHL Regular season record. During his tenure in Calgary, he was the first GM to bring a player from the Soviet Union when Sergei Priakin played in 1988. The Flames won the Stanley Cup Championship in 1989 against the Montreal Canadiens.

He also served as the GM of Team Canada for the 1981 Canada Cup.

Maple Leafs

Fletcher moved to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1991, to serve as Chief Operating Officer, President and General Manager. He made a blockbuster trade with Doug Risebrough, his successor as the Flames' General Manager, sending Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, Jeff Reese, Craig Berube, and Alexander Godynyuk to the Flames for Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Rick Wamsley and Kent Manderville on 2 January 1992. That year, Fletcher also hired Pat Burns as head coach for the upcoming season.

The positive impact on the Toronto team was immediate. During the 1992–93 season, his second year as GM, the Leafs set team records with wins (44) and points (99), while Gilmour emerged as a superstar and scored a franchise-high 127 points. During the postseason awards ceremony, Gilmour finished as runner-up for the Hart Trophy and won the Frank J. Selke Trophy as best defensive forward, while Burns won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year; the first major NHL individual awards that Leaf players had won since 1967. Fletcher himself was named as the "Man of the Year" and the "Executive of the Year" by The Hockey News in 1993. The Leafs reached the conference finals in 1993 and 1994 - the only team in the NHL to make it that far in the playoffs in both seasons and the only one of the seven teams from those two years to not make a Stanley Cup Final since expansion.

He remained with the Toronto Maple Leafs for six seasons before retiring to Florida.

Lightning

In 1999, Fletcher joined the Tampa Bay Lightning as Senior Advisor to the GM for 2 seasons at the request of Jacques Demers, then Tampa's coach and GM. When Demers left the franchise in 1999, so did Fletcher.

Coyotes

Fletcher joined the Phoenix Coyotes on 17 February 2001 as General Manager and Executive Vice-President. On August 28, 2001, he passed his GM role to Mike Barnett and became Senior Executive Vice-President of Hockey Operations.

On April 11, 2007, Fletcher and General Manager Mike Barnett were fired after the Coyotes finished the 2006–07 season with its worst record since relocating from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996.

Return to Toronto

Fletcher was officially named the interim general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs on 22 January 2008, replacing John Ferguson Jr. [1] Fletcher signed a nineteen month contract with the franchise; serving as GM for six months before becoming an executive for the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment organization. He was replaced as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs by Brian Burke.

Team President Richard Peddie announced that Fletcher would likely be the general manager through the 2008–09 NHL season,4 although it was later announced on November 27, 2008 that Brian Burke had agreed to a six-year contract as the Maple Leafs' GM.5 Fletcher is expected to serve out the remainder of his contract with the Maple Leafs as an adviser for the Maple Leafs management team. During the off season of 2009, Fletcher signed a multi-year contract extension.

Hockey Hall of Fame

Fletcher spent 7 years on the Hockey Hall of Fame Board of Directors, having stepped down in 2002-03. He also spent time on the Hall of Fame selection committee. In 2004, he was selected to the HHOF as a builder and was inducted on November 8, 2004.

Family

Fletcher's son Chuck Fletcher currently serves as the General Manager of the Minnesota Wild. He previous served as Assistant General Manager of the Florida Panthers and Director of Hockey Operations of the Anaheim Ducks. Fletcher's daughter Kristy is director of executive suite services for the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Raptors.

References

  1. ^ "The second time around for Fletcher". thestar.com. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  2. ^ "Fletcher, Cliff - Honoured Builder". Legends of Hockey. 1935-08-16. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  3. ^ Major Shake-up At Kansas City - Windsor Star - Jan 12, 1971
  4. ^ "Peddie: Fletcher to be Leafs' GM till '09". Toronto Star. 2008-06-11. Retrieved 2008-06-11. 
  5. ^ "Burke agrees to terms of contract with Maple Leafs". TSN. 2008-11-27. Retrieved 2008-11-27. 

External links

Preceded by
Position created
General Manager of the Atlanta/Calgary Flames
1972-91
Succeeded by
Doug Risebrough
Preceded by
Floyd Smith
General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs
199197
Succeeded by
Ken Dryden
Preceded by
Bobby Smith
General Manager of the Phoenix Coyotes
2000-01
Succeeded by
Mike Barnett
Preceded by
John Ferguson, Jr.
Interim General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs
2008
Succeeded by
Brian Burke







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