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Philadelphia Flyers

After Dismaying Day, Flyers’ GM Points Finger at Himself

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Chuck Fletcher, Philadelphia Flyers

Other NHL teams are able to clear cap space to sign key players. Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher didn’t do that last summer, and was unable to offer star left winger Johnny Gaudreau a contract — even though he wanted to come here.

Other teams are able to trade players with a lot less ability than James van Riemsdyk. Fletcher was unable to deal van Riemsdyk at Friday’s trade deadline.

He insisted he tried everything in his power to get a draft pick for the pending free agent, but the interest, oddly, just wasn’t there.

“The market spoke,” he said.

Under Fletcher, the Flyers have become irrelevant the last three years. He needed to make some shrewd trades before and at the deadline, but he only managed to acquire fifth- and sixth-round draft picks.

Toward the end of his news conference Friday, Fletcher took responsibility for the Flyers’ struggling times. They will miss the playoffs for the third straight year — and that hasn’t happened since the early 1990s.

“Look, I understand the fans are really disappointed,” he said in a massive understatement. “The last two or three years, there’s no question we’ve been trying to be a competitive team. We’ve been trying — particularly two years ago — to maximize (Claude) Giroux on the last year of his contract. And to be a team that could compete for a playoff spot.”

Short-sighted goals

As this space has said repeatedly, that is the problem in a nutshell. The Philadelphia Flyers have been trying to compete “for a playoff spot.” What a lame goal. The goal should be to compete for the Stanley Cup, not just sneak into the playoffs.

If that takes tearing down the team to the core and a total rebuild, that’s what needs to happen.

The Flyers have not done that, so they hang around in the playoff race, fall out of contention, and think they are “close to turning things around.”

They are not.

To his credit, Fletcher pointed a finger at himself Friday.

“Clearly, I haven’t done it. I haven’t done that job,” Fletcher said. “And there’s no doubt.”

He mentioned how injuries to Ryan Ellis, Kevin Hayes  and Sean Couturier slowed down the Flyers last season. And how injuries this season — Couturier, Ellis and Cam Atkinson have not played a game — have made it “difficult. But that’s not the only reason. We need more talent, and that’s on me. I get it.

“Last summer, I think we were a little tepid. We didn’t want to be overly aggressive, I guess, in pursuit of talent because we did have some concerns about Couturier in particular. And (Joel) Farabee had been hurt, and we didn’t know exactly what we were going to have for the year. So we put some kids on the team and gave them the opportunity.”

Added Fletcher:  “As we move forward, we recognize we need more talent, and we are going to build it.”

As for his future, Fletcher said, “I’m not worried about my job. Whatever happens with me, will happen with me.  That’s up to Dave Scott.”

He said he wasn’t going to take “shortcuts” in the trade market.

“The deals that were presented were not good deals for the Philadelphia Flyers,” he said. “… We don’t want Band-Aids. I want to build this the right way. Those are my words, and my actions have to back it up.”

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