If there’s one thing we know about Cliff Fletcher’s time in Toronto, it’s that he wasn’t shy about making big trades.
He acquired and later dealt Doug Gilmour. He dealt and later acquired Wendel Clark. He brought in established veterans, and wasn’t coy about trading them away.
Hired by the Leafs in 1991, Fletcher was fired by the club today in 1997.
Fletcher had made two big trades within his first year that would help shape the Leafs through the 90’s. He first brought in Glenn Anderson, Craig Berube and Grant Fuhr in a Sept. 19 1991 deal that saw him flip Vincent Damphousse, Peter Ing, Luke Richardson, Scott Thornton, cash and future considerations to the Edmonton Oilers.
Both Anderson and Fuhr were in Toronto for three and two years respectively, but provided some much-needed punch to the club.
But four months later, he pulled off his biggest deal.
The recently acquired Craig Berube was paired with Alexander Godynyuk, Gary Leeman, Michel Petit and Jeff Reese and subsequently traded to Calgary on Jan. 2, 1992.
In return, the Leafs got star forward Doug Gilmour along with Jamie Macoun, Kent Manderville, Ric Nattress and Rick Wamsley. The impacts of the massive 10-player deal were just that — massive.
Gilmour went on to be one of the most successful Leafs in history scoring 131 goals and 452 points in 393 games that spanned seven years. He played a big part in some deep runs with Pat Burns behind the bench and was a fan favourite to many.
Fletcher also orchestrated big draft trades in 1992 to move up and select Brandon Convery, but he ended up a flop in the league.
He also made the move to bring in Dave Andreychuk in Feb. 1993 and in one of his biggest deals, he acquired Mats Sundin in 1994.
Fletcher’s Leafs were a team that was far from super successful despite the fact they did make it to the conference finals twice. But quarter-finals losses in subsequent years spelt the end for Burns behind the bench, and it was only a matter of time before Fletcher was to be held accountable.
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