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Old 07-15-2006, 11:58 AM   #37
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Default Re: Penguins Hire Assistant Coach

Fletcher joins Penguins as club's assistant GM
Shero's new hire a mirror image
Saturday, July 15, 2006

By Shelly Anderson, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

When rookie Penguins general manager Ray Shero set about finding a right-hand man, he knew he wanted someone he could trust with the many facets of hockey.

He figured he needed someone who could do a job similar to the one he did most recently as assistant general manager in Nashville.

Shero not only got that, but he also got someone in Chuck Fletcher whose background is astonishingly like his own.

Fletcher, 39, was hired yesterday as the Penguins' assistant general manager.

Shero also announced that longtime Penguins employee Eddie Johnston will remain as senior advisor of hockey operations. Johnston, 70, a former NHL goaltender, has served as general manager, coach, assistant general manager and assistant coach over 23 years.

Shero said he's going to wait before deciding about other front-office additions. He might hire a director of player personnel or add to the pro scouting staff or bring in a director of hockey operations.

Like Shero, Fletcher grew up the son of a prominent hockey man. His father, Hall of Fame member Cliff Fletcher, is a longtime NHL executive who was general manager of the 1989 Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames.

Shero's father, Fred, coached Philadelphia to Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and '75.

Fletcher played college hockey at Harvard, Shero at St. Lawrence, although Fletcher said, "He was a better hockey player than I was."

Both spent time as agents before getting into hockey management, Shero with the expansion Ottawa Senators, Fletcher with the expansion Florida Panthers.

Both learned many areas of hockey operations, including contracts, development, scouting and minor-league management.

"We've talked about that over the years," Fletcher said of their similar backgrounds. "It is sort of remarkable. Maybe that's why we got along so well."

"It's actually nice to have something in common with someone you're working with," Shero said. "It's going to be a nice relationship."

The two, now in the same front office, represent the new breed of NHL executive.

"I don't know how it will be perceived, but that's how Ray and I see it going," said Fletcher, who was elevated to interim general manager with the Panthers in December 2001, became Anaheim's director of hockey operations in 2002, then became the Ducks' assistant general manager in 2004.

Fletcher had the same sort of wide-ranging duties that Shero had with Nashville.

It's the kind of job description that's required these days, he said.

"You have to be able to multitask," he said.

"The game has gotten more complex in the past 10 years, especially with the new [collective bargaining agreement]. You have to be able to scout, know the CBA, know how to negotiate contracts."

Fletcher is expected to assist Shero with those duties as well as oversee the Penguins' minor-league club in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

In fact, Fletcher and Shero already have begun to coordinate efforts to add players to the major-league roster, which Shero said could come through free agency or trades.

"Ray has a real good plan," said Fletcher, who was with Florida in 1996 and Anaheim in 2003 when they reached the Stanley Cup final.

Fletcher likes the idea of being part of a new direction in the NHL.

Shero, Colorado's Francois Giguere and Boston's Peter Chiarelli, all in their early 40s, became first-time NHL general managers in the same week in May.

"You're probably seeing a different type of GM, and we saw three of them hired in one summer," Fletcher said.
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