“Chucky” holds conference call with print media; Highlights: He’s spoken to Gaborik, he plans to spend next week on coaching search, is working toward a Draft Day trade

Posted on June 5th, 2009 – 3:48 PM
By Michael Russo

Busy Chuck Fletcher has been swamped with many things on his plate, so in the past week, he hasn’t had a chance to talk with the beat writers.

Fletcher held a conference call with the two newspapers and Associated Press this afternoon, and he discussed the coaching search, Gaborik and pro scouting meetings.

Highlights:

He spoke with Gaborik, although it was mostly just to introduce himself. Asked if he got an idea as to whether Gaborik is willing to consider staying rather than just automatically going to free agency July 1, Fletcher said, “I can tell you the conversation was not as much about the future as just introducing myself and having a general conversation. I’ll talk more in depth with [agent] Ron Salcer as I continue discussions with him.”

On whether he’s talked to Salcer about a contract, he said, “It’s starting to get to that point in time where I’ll probably respectfully decline to comment on the specifics of negotiations.”

That made it sound like there have been negotiations, but in a subsequent email I sent to Chuck, he said there have been no negotiations and that he meant that any future talks as far as a contract would be with Salcer rather than Gaborik.

– On the coaching search: He said he’s still closer to the beginning of the process rather than the end. “I’m trying to narrow it down to a smaller list of candidates. I’ve spoken with some candidates. There are still some candidates I intend to speak with in a little more detail. Next week, I’ll start to make some progress.”

He said it won’t be an exhaustive search of everybody because he has a good idea of his finalists. He said that’s because in Pittsburgh when he and Ray Shero fired Michel Therrien this past season, he and Shero reviewed and assessed different candidates and spoke to a lot of different people about candidates.

“I don’t think it’ll take lot of time once I can devote all my time and attention to the matter. Next week I’ll jump into it more aggressively.”

He said his timetable is still by the Draft, and he’s confident it’ll happen. And quite frankly, Fletcher leaves for the June 26-27 Draft on June 22, so my guess is a coach will be named by June 19 the latest.

The candidates still appear to be Todd Richards, Craig MacTavish, Peter Laviolette, I hear both Detroit assistants Paul MacLean and Brad McCrimmon and Kevin Constantine. There could be others. But these are the names I’m hearing mostly from myriad leaguewide sources.

– Fletcher made it extremely clear he’ll be looking to swing a trade at the Draft. He comes from a long list of teams that have made big trades at the Draft — Roberto Luongo and Olli Jokinen for Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha the biggest. He said he and his staff are compiling free agent and trade priority lists, and that’ll continue to be refined.

But because free agency is such a crapshoot, he’d like to try to fill some holes “in advance” of free agency, which means the Draft.

I keep hearing Josh Harding is the big piece they’ll be floating. I also confirmed again the Wild offered Benoit Pouliot around to everybody last summer, so you can bet that won’t change. I also hear Derek Boogaard — one year from unrestricted free agency — will be at least shopped.

– Lastly, he thanked Mario Tremblay and said he asked Mario if he wanted to be considered for an assistant coaching position and Mario thought it was best to move on, which is what Mario told me. He said once a new coach is in place, the first order of business would be to sit down with Mike Ramsey, Matt Shaw and Bob Mason to see if there’s a fit.

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