Cliff Fletcher, who was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builder category in 2004, brings more than 50 years of experience in his return to the Maple Leafs. As one of the most respected gentlemen in the game of hockey, Fletcher has over 25 years of experience as an NHL general manager. He rejoined the Maple Leafs January 22, 2008 and the team fashioned a record of 17 wins, 13 losses and three overtime/shootout losses after his arrival.
Fletcher took over an underachieving Maple Leafs franchise on July 1, 1991 as chief operating officer, president and general manager and presided over a turnaround that saw the team advance to the conference finals (1993 and 1994) for the first time since 1978. The team had three consecutive seasons of better than .500% hockey for the first time since the 1976-79 time period. The Maple Leafs played in 52 postseason games as the hockey club reached the playoffs in four of his six seasons with him at the helm. He was chosen “Man of the Year” and “Executive of the Year” in 1993 by The Hockey News. Under his direction, the Maple Leafs posted a record of 202 wins, 200 losses, and 58 ties for a .502 winning percentage from 1991 to 1997. Fletcher and the team parted ways May 24, 1997.
A native of Montreal, Quebec, Fletcher was a scout with the Montreal Canadiens for 10 years beginning in 1956 under legendary Sam Pollock. He later became the general manager of the Verdun Blues junior hockey team. Fletcher served as a scout and assistant general manager with the St. Louis Blues from 1966-72 before being named general manager of the expansion Atlanta Flames in 1972.
Fletcher was the Flames’ general manager in the team’s first 19 years of existence. He oversaw the beginning of the Atlanta Flames franchise in 1972, and in 1980, he organized the transfer of the franchise to Calgary. In 11 seasons with Calgary, the team won two President’s Trophies, two Campbell Conference crowns and two Smythe Division titles. In 1989, the Flames defeated the Canadiens to capture the Stanley Cup on Montreal Forum ice.
Fletcher was the first general manager to sign and bring a player from the Soviet Union to play in the NHL with official consent when Sergei Priakin joined the Flames in 1988. He compiled a .581 winning percentage with the Flames franchise and he also served as general manager of Team Canada in the 1981 Canada Cup. In 1999 Fletcher served as senior advisor to the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning for two seasons. He joined the Phoenix Coyotes in February 2001 as general manager and executive vice president, moving up to senior executive vice president of hockey operations the following year. He and the club’s general manager were relieved of their duties in Phoenix in April 2007.
Fletcher’s stature in hockey led to his place on the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee. He served seven seasons as one of the 18 members on the committee before stepping down in 2002-03.