I have not really seen much written in the Toronto papers with a view on how Fletcher's time in Phoenix played out in too much detail. To try to remedy this I asked PB from One Fan's Perspective for his thoughts on Fletcher's time in the desert (figuratively and literally). I wanted to get a sense for the level of independence that Fletcher had especially during Barnett's tenure.
PB also provides his overall impression of Fletcher's tenure with the Coyotes as well as a look at his trading and drafting record. Many thanks to PB and if you have any questions put them in the comments and hopefully he'll have the time to stop by and answer a few. Here are PB's thoughts:
Barnett was around during Fletcher's time. When the Coyotes were refocusing their efforts, Mr. Jeff Shumway and Mr. Douglas Moss felt that the only person that had the right idea about the direction of the team was Wayne Gretzky. Of course, being a part-owner/managing partner doesn't hurt, but Shumway and Moss cleaned house and blew the team up, both with the players on the bench and in the front office.
As far as notable trades go:
- Nikolai Khababulin was traded to Tampa Bay (with Stan Neckar) for Paul Mara, Mike Johnson, Ruslin Zainullin, and a second round pick in 2002. Khababulin won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning and now plays for Chicago.
- Paul Mara was traded to Boston for Nick Boynton.
- Mike Johnson is now with the St. Louis Blues and Zainullin is in Russia, I think.
- Keith Tkachuk was traded to St. Louis for Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy, and Jeff Taffe. Taffe is with Pittsburgh, Nagy has been a wash here, and with Dallas, and with Los Angeles, Handzus is also with the Kings.
Soon after Fletcher was moved up to Executive Vice-President and Mike Barnett was hired as the General Manager. The entire amateur scouting department was let go at the beginning of this season.
As far as draft issues, with Fletcher as General Manager:
2002 - when Barnett took over: Jakub Koreis (19th overall), Ben Eager (23rd overall), David LeNeveu (46th overall, still in Coyotes' development), Matt Jones (80th overall, still in Coyotes' development)
2003 - Tyler Redenbach (77th overall, still with Coyotes development in the ECHL and doing very well right now), Sean Sullivan (collegiate player drafted in the ninth round, may see time next year)
2004 - Blake Wheeler (5th overall)
2005 - Martin Hanzal (17th overall)
2006 - Peter Mueller (8th overall).
As far my impressions go, he [Fletcher] was pretty much out of the limelight. As fans, we knew he was with the team, but when Barnett took over, he focused more on the club's operational side of things. It was reported that Shumway and Moss spoke with every executive and made their evaluation as to what made sense to them. Essentially, we were told that everyone had a different idea as to where to go. Youth and stability were the decisions that stuck and people were let go. Allegedly, trades were done at the deadline that Gretzky wasn't happy with but looking at those issues now everyone sees that life is indeed different.
Don Maloney has quietly made an impact and gained plenty of respect from fans down here. The contingent was more unhappy with Barnett's management of the team and its personnel instead of directing any ire towards Gretzky. I don't have anything negative to really say about Fletcher because he was not front-and-center of the franchise after his promotion but it was clear at the end of last season that the higher brass was not happy at all about last year's performance.
If Fletcher is friends with Gretzky, as I know that Barnett was/is, Gretzky's loyalty hurt the short term development. Now that he is forced somewhat to work on his own, success has followed. I have plenty of close friends that I work with every day due to my job, but each time I bring other friends over to work with me, it doesn't help. I think that aspect may have happened here.
Thanks again to PB for taking the time to give us a look at Fletcher and the Coyotes through a 'Yotes fan's eyes.