Jim Souhan: Fletcher didn't read the rules for local GMs

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 4, 2009 - 8:54 PM

The New Wild boss is making bold, quick signings. That's not how we do things around here.

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Chuck Fletcher

Photo: Kyndell Harkness, Associated Press - Ap

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Chuck Fletcher has no idea what he's doing.

He evidently didn't get the memo.

He doesn't understand our parochial rules.

What Fletcher doesn't comprehend is that when you become the general manager of a pro sports team in the Twin Cities, you don't run around spending money on good players. You certainly don't rush to sign players in the first 48 hours of free agency.

Because he's apparently been too busy to read the rules of engagement for Twin Cities GMs, we will do him the favor of printing them here:

1. Move slowly.

If you are going to sign a worthwhile free agent, at least have the good taste to delay, obfuscate, wait for the price to drop, and risk losing the guy to a higher bidder. It's so much more suspenseful that way.

2. Bottom feed.

Why spend $5 million or $10 million a year on one really good player when you can spend $1 million a year on 10 lousy players? Who knows, one of them might turn out to be Tony Batista! Or Mike James!

3. Believe in the power of miracles.

Make sure to acquire a player who was a problem in his last stop and pretend you can fix him, because you are smarter and more sensitive than anyone else in pro sports. Just look how the Twins have turned Delmon Young around, and how fondly the Timberwolves remember Latrell Sprewell and Sam Cassell.

4. Save your money.

Haven't you heard we're in a recession? Strange, but the Twins have been preparing for this economic downturn since 1993.

5. Talk about youth. Over and over and over.

Why sign a player who can help you today when you can talk about your top prospect in A-ball, or the D-League or in juniors who is going to be absolutely dynamic in 2016? The great thing about prospects is, they aren't making any money and they haven't failed in the big leagues yet, so nobody can complain about them. They have promise right until the next prospect loses his baby teeth.

What's great about No. 5 is that youth movements are sure to work -- every 10 years or so. The Twins had to go through only eight consecutive losing seasons before they became competitive again. After a refreshing 11 years between playoff appearances, their fans were much more appreciative of success. That's what you call a good investment in time.

Fletcher doesn't get it. By signing a star-quality free agent in Martin Havlat, and aggressively adding a slew of role players, he has raised expectations of a passionate fan base.

Let's face it, Marian Gaborik decided long ago to leave Minnesota. Anyone who thought a guy from Slovakia was determined to find a way to stay in Minnesota is a hopeless romantic, or has never left the Mosquito State.

The Rangers gave Gaborik a chance to play at a fast pace in one of the world's great cities. Of course he jumped all over it.

With Gaborik out of the picture, and the Sedin twins re-signing in Vancouver, and Marian Hossa headed to Chicago, Fletcher got the next-best scorer on the market in Havlat.

For all of their problems last season, if Gaborik and Brent Burns had been healthy, the Wild probably would have made the playoffs. This year, presuming the health of Havlat and Burns, the Wild should make the playoffs, even while adapting to a new system and attempting to rebuild the farm system.

Wolves boss David Kahn and Fletcher were hired the same week. We still don't know quite what to make of Kahn; our first meaningful judgments of him will be based on how he deals with Ricky Rubio, and who he hires as his coach.

We already know a lot about Fletcher. He's savvy, aggressive and willing to spend money to win right now.

Just who does he think he is?

Actually, the better question is: Just where does he think he is?

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m.-noon on AM-1500 KSTP. • jsouhan@startribune.com

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