Flyers GM search: In hunt for ‘outsider,’ Steve Yzerman, Ron Francis, and Chuck Fletcher in consideration
The Flyers' GM search is underway and it will end with someone without any ties to the organization.
Steve Yzerman and Ron Francis are among the candidates to fill the Flyers' general-manager vacancy, Dave Scott confirmed Tuesday.
Scott, the CEO of the Flyers' parent company, Comcast Spectacor, would not confirm Chuck Fletcher, 51, as a candidate, but sources indicate he is high on the team's wish list. Now a New Jersey Devils adviser, he had a mostly successful nine-year run as the Minnesota Wild's GM. He was fired after the Wild's first-round playoff exit last season.
Under Fletcher's watch, the Wild made six straight playoff appearances, but advanced to the second round only twice. A Harvard University graduate, Fletcher was in a management position with Pittsburgh, Florida, and Anaheim teams that went to the Stanley Cup Final.
With the Penguins, he was an assistant general manager under Ray Shero, who is now the Devils' GM.
Yzerman, who resigned as Tampa Bay's general manager before the season, was a Hall-of-Fame player with Detroit. Scott did not sound confident that Yzerman could be lured to Philadelphia.
"I spent some time in Detroit, and I know Yzerman a little bit," Scott said. "My sense is he's pretty committed to someday getting back to Detroit. I think his family is still there. He really put roots down there, and [Red Wings GM] Kenny Holland is getting to a point in his life he's probably going to do different things someday."
Francis did not have much success as Carolina's GM and was demoted from that position last March. The next month, he was fired as president of hockey operations. The Hurricanes did not make the playoffs during his tenure, during which they compiled a 130-130-53 record.
The Flyers, with Scott and club president Paul Holmgren overseeing the selection, want to go outside the organization to replace Ron Hextall, whose reluctance to deal some prospects apparently differed with the views those above him.
"I think it's just a fresh set of eyes," Scott said, adding that "one of my asks" was that "we really look hard outside — and Paul concurred."
Dean Lombardi, a Flyers adviser, is not interested in the GM job, according to Holmgren. Lombardi was Los Angeles' general manager when the Kings won two Stanley Cups in his 11 years.
Former Flyer Chris Pronger, currently in the Florida Panthers' front office, is not in the running for GM, according to an NHL source who said he was "not ready yet" to handle the duties.
Scott said that GM resumes were "flowing in" and that he and Holmgren "will do this process together. We're going to take input from people in the organization and listen and really find the right fit."
He added: "The consensus from all the advisers we have was we just felt there's more we could do right now. We'd like to have a couple more pieces."
Scott said he talked to Hextall after the firing.
"It's hard, it's emotional. I'm going to stay in touch with him and we'll definitely get face to face in the next week," Scott said. "… I do appreciate that Ron left us in a strong position."
Scott acknowledged that former Chicago coach Joel Quenneville's name came up in a recent discussion, but that Hextall wanted to "stay the course."
Holmgren and Scott both said they support coach Dave Hakstol.
"I like Hak. I think he's a good coach," Holmgren said. "I hope the new GM gives him every opportunity to evaluate everything — from how he prepares, how he coaches, how he does his matchups … and gives him a fair shot, because I think he deserves that."
Until a new GM is named, Holmgren will handle the duties.
If, in the interim, a deal became available he thought would help the team, Holmgren said, "I would talk to our hockey staff, our pro scouting staff, and coaches and look at doing that."
But he strongly emphasized he would rather the new GM makes the moves.