One of the most respected executives in hockey, Cliff Fletcher was born August 16, 1935 in Montreal, Quebec.
Fletcher began his hockey career in 1956 with the Montreal Canadiens organization, starting as a scout under Sam Pollock, and later became general manager of the Verdun Blues junior hockey team. In 1966, he joined the St. Louis Blues, one of six teams entering the NHL after the league's Original Six era which lasted from 1942 until 1967. Cliff began as St. Louis' Eastern Canada scout and later became the assistant general manager of the Blues.
After skillfully helping manoeuvre the Blues into the Stanley Cup final during the first three years of the franchise's existence, Cliff Fletcher was hired as the inaugural general manager of the Atlanta Flames, a franchise that joined the National Hockey League for the 1972-73 season. Fletcher worked diligently behind the scenes with the Flames through eight seasons, then helped orchestrate the franchise's subsequent move from Atlanta to Calgary in time for the 1980-81 season. During Cliff's eleven-year regime with the Flames, his teams made the playoffs sixteen straight seasons and they finished first in their division in 1987-88, 1988-89 and 1989-90. In 1988-89, under Cliff Fletcher, the Calgary Flames won the Stanley Cup; the only such celebration won by the franchise to date.
Two of Fletcher's key acquisitions while with the Flames were his 1981 trade of Bobby MacMillan and Don Lever for future Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald as well as his trade for Doug Gilmour, Mark Hunter, Steve Bozek and Michael Dark for Mike Bullard, Craig Coxe and Tim Corkey on September 8, 1988. In 1988-89, the season Calgary won the Stanley Cup, McDonald served as team captain, Gilmour exploded with 22 playoff points and Hunter served as one of the club's premier checkers and enforcers.
Lured to Toronto in 1991, Fletcher spent six seasons as Chief Operating Officer, President and General Manager of the Maple Leafs. During that period (1991 to 1997), Toronto reached the Conference Finals in 1993 and 1994, while Fletcher was named the 1993 Executive of the Year by The Hockey News. Cliff's most notable trade sent Gary Leeman, Michel Petit, Jeff Reese, Craig Berube, and Alexander Godynyuk to the Flames for Doug Gilmour, Jamie Macoun, Ric Nattress, Rick Wamsley and Kent Manderville on January 2, 1992. The blockbuster trade paid immediate dividends for Toronto. Gilmour went on to record a career-high 127 points for the Leafs in 1992-93 and was named the runner-up to Mario Lemieux for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. Fletcher's penchant for pulling the trigger on multiplayer, high-profile deals earned him the nickname "Trader Cliff". "I'd rather trust my instincts and get burned on a deal than miss out on an opportunity to improve the team", Cliff stated at the time. As a team, Toronto improved by an incredible 32 points from 67 points in 1991-92 to a franchise-high 99 points in 1992-93.
Fletcher joined the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1999 and spent two seasons as Senior Advisor to the General Manager. On February 17, 2001, Cliff Fletcher was hired by the Phoenix Coyotes as Executive Vice-President and General Manager. A year later, he was named Senior Executive Vice-President of Hockey Operations of the Coyotes.
After an outstanding forty-eight year career that continues in the National Hockey League, Cliff Fletcher was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Builder in 2004.
After six years with the Coyotes, Fletcher and the club's general manager were
relieved of their duties in Phoenix in April 2007. Less than a year later,
Fletcher, who served with the Leafs as team president, chief operating officer
and general manager between 1991 and 1997, was appointed to serve as the Toronto
Maple Leafs interim general manager.