Wild split with GM Chuck Fletcher after playoff exit

Chuck Fletcher
The Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Wild split with general manager Chuck Fletcher after nine seasons with only two playoff series wins.

Wild owner Craig Leipold met with Fletcher on Monday to tell him the club was not renewing his contract. He then addressed the players.

The Wild have six straight postseason appearances, matching the longest-running streak in the Western Conference, but they have not reached the second round since 2015.

“Very agonizing,” Leipold said. “I like Chuck. Probably more than I like Chuck, I respect him tremendously. I didn’t decide on this definitely until a couple of days ago. In our new practice facility, we have a motto. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door: ‘Good is not good enough.’ I went through the practice facility about two weeks ago, and I felt that was a signal for me. It starts with me.”

Leipold, who took over the organization the year before hiring Fletcher, said the move was unrelated to the Wild’s early exit. They lost in five games in the first round to the Winnipeg Jets, after being ousted in five games in 2017 by the St. Louis Blues. Last year, Leipold declined to extend Fletcher’s deal.

“My antenna’s been up,” Leipold said. “Chuck and I have had numerous conversations all year. I wanted to wait until the end of the year to assess everything, to understand how I feel about where we’re going. Are we still in the window to win the Stanley Cup? I believe we are. He believed we are. But my personal feeling was that I wanted someone new to come in and kind of shake it up.”

Wild President Matt Majka will conduct the search with Leipold. Brent Flahr, the senior vice president of hockey operations and assistant GM under Fletcher, will serve as acting general manager in the meantime.

Leipold said he won’t order a significant rebuild, nor does he believe that’s necessary for postseason progress. He added he would not hire a general manager who recommended a long-haul approach to winning the franchise’s first championship.

“They’ll know exactly how I feel,” Leipold said. “And I would expect any general manager candidate coming in to talk with me to understand our players, to know where the strengths and the weaknesses are, and the direction we’re going in.”

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