Sid Hartman: Nanne says Wild made right choice for GM

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 24, 2009 - 12:13 AM

Lou Nanne says Chuck Fletcher is the best person the Wild could have selected to replace Doug Risebrough.

Cliff Fletcher is one of Lou Nanne's best friends.

Nanne, the former player, coach and general manager of the North Stars, has known Chuck Fletcher, the son of Cliff and the new GM of the Wild, since Chuck was 11 years old.

So no doubt Nanne has a good idea of what Chuck Fletcher will do here after coming over from the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he served as an assistant GM.

"I think he is going to make a tremendous general manager," said Nanne, who knows the game of hockey as well as anybody in the business.

"He's been around hockey all of his life. His dad has been in the game 50 years. All of his life [Chuck] wanted to be involved in hockey."

Chuck Fletcher, 42, graduated from Harvard, but his experience as a player was only in junior hockey. But Nanne said Fletcher learned the game from one of the great general managers of all time in his father.

"He's very bright. He knows the game and knows hockey players," Nanne said. "He's watched his dad operate all of his life. When he came out of Harvard, he became an agent. So he saw it from the agent side. He went into scouting and management. He has been involved in every facet of the game."

How is he different from Doug Risebrough, the previous Wild general manager?

"His style might be different," Nanne said. "Doug did a great job with the Minnesota Wild. He was a terrific general manager. I think Craig [Leipold, the Wild owner] might have been looking for a guy who would be quicker on signings and making trades. The style of the way [the Penguins] operate. I think that's what Craig Leipold was looking for."

Nanne said that the younger Fletcher had a great deal to do with building the Penguins into a Stanley Cup-contending team -- Pittsburgh is leading the Eastern Conference finals right now after making the Cup Finals a year ago -- and that he was the best choice for the Wild position.

Nanne said if he were Chuck, he would put Cliff on the payroll and make him an assistant.

Nanne does not believe the new GM will have a better chance to re-sign pending free-agent forward Marian Gaborik than Risebrough had, because the Wild superstar wants to test the market.

One thing Nanne is sure of is that the coach Fletcher hires will play the type of hockey Leipold desires, a type that figures to be more up-tempo than favored by Risebrough and Jacques Lemaire.

"Yes, I think more pressure hockey," Nanne said. "More forechecking. More go after the puck and cause turnovers."

Well, it will be interesting to see whether Leipold did the right thing in firing the popular Risebrough. Time will tell.

Memo to David Kahn

A message for David Kahn, the new Timberwolves president of basketball of operations: The best decision you can make when it comes to selecting a coach is to bring Kevin McHale back, if he can come to terms with you and owner Glen Taylor.

While McHale and his staff didn't make the best personnel decisions when it came to making deals and selecting the right people in the draft, the Basketball Hall of Famer has done a terrific job in player development in practice, such as with Kevin Garnett.

Garnett will tell you that the best thing that happened to him was to be drafted by the Wolves, because McHale worked with the young Garnett many hours on improving Garnett's play.

Over the past season, you can credit McHale for the great season Al Jefferson had before he was injured. Talking to the players over the years that McHale has been with the Wolves, I learned how much respect they had for him because of the great playing career he had with the Boston Celtics.

In fact, Mr. Kahn, while I don't question that you learned a lot about the game during the years you worked with Donnie Walsh with the Indiana Pacers, I'm sure you can gain some knowledge working with McHale as your coach.

I was involved in the NBA as a general manager before you were born. I started the Minneapolis Lakers and we had great success. Then I was involved with the Chicago Packers when they were born in 1961, working with that team as it changed names and then cities, before the Baltimore Bullets were sold to Abe Pollin and Arnold Heft after the 1963-64 season. You can verify these facts with our mutual friend David Stern, the NBA commissioner. So I have a little knowledge of what it takes.

You have inherited a very tough job. You might have been the Wolves' first choice, but I know that more than a couple of people didn't want to be considered when Mr. Taylor called because of the big challenge ahead.

This franchise has been run by committee since McHale was stripped of his title of VP of basketball operations. From my experience, I know you cannot develop a winner operating the way it has been run.

Now that you have complete control of the basketball operation -- assuming Taylor allows you to run it -- the Wolves will have a much better chance of being successful.

Nobody should expect miracles. You are in a tough division and it will take time to develop a competitive club. Let's hope the fans and the media give you time to see what you can do.

Jottings

Twins President David St. Peter reported that to date, only one home game would have been delayed and no games would have been postponed had the Twins been playing outdoors this spring instead of in the Metrodome. ... The Twins have brought in former Pirates and Padres executive Dick Freeman as a consultant on new ballpark matters. Freeman helped the Pirates develop PNC Park and the Padres develop Petco Field.

Leipold said it will be Fletcher's decision as to the status of Mike Ramsey, the only Wild assistant coach with a year still left on his contract.

Tom Moore, the former Gophers and Vikings assistant coach, will remain with the Colts as an consultant after resigning as Indianapolis offensive coordinator.

If John Nance, the former Cretin-Derham Hall quarterback, plans on leaving the Gophers football team and playing basketball at a Division III school, Gophers coach Tim Brewster said he has not been told of his plans.

The Gophers wrestling recruiting class of 2009 was recently ranked No. 1 in the nation by Wrestling Insider News Magazine. The others listed in the top five by the magazine are No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Nebraska, No. 4 Oklahoma, and No. 5 Virginia Tech. The Gophers are one of three Big Ten teams in the top 10, with Iowa coming in at No. 8 and Michigan No. 10.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on his Podcast once a week at www.startribune.com/sidcast. shartman@startribune.com

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