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As a young boy in Atlanta, Chuck Fletcher used to spend Saturdays at work with his father. But Cliff Fletcher didn't work in an ordinary office building, he didn't run a bank or a store.
Cliff Fletcher, general manager of the Atlanta Flames, ran a hockey team.
And so Chuck grew up as a child of the NHL. First in Atlanta, and later, after the team moved in 1980, in Calgary. The equipment men, the assistant coaches, the players--they were all used to seeing Chuck around. When he was younger, he would practice on the ice with the team, visit them in the dressing room, collect autographs. Later, he was around so often he got to know many of the players personally.
But, even as a kid, it was not Jim Peplinski or Lanny MacDonald that he tried to emulate. A hockey player was never his hero.
"I never really dreamed of playing," Chuch says. "I've always dreamed of running a team, like my dad."
Chuck was never really cut out to be a professional hockey player. The day of his first game, when he was five years old and living in Atlanta, his mother sent him off to the rink wearing a football helmet. Cliff was out of town, and she didn't know any better. As Chuck himself jokes, "It was all downhill from there."
"When we got to Calgary, the program was far more advanced [than the one in Atlanta]," Cliff says. "I think, down deep, his father knew then that he wasn't ever going to be a professional hockey player."
Although he met with Harvard hockey Coach Ronn Tomassoni, Harvard's recruiting ace, and stayed with hockey players during his pre-frosh visit, Chunk was never really a "recruit"--he never really received a lot of attention.
That doesn't mean he didn't want to play at the college level. He came to Harvard looking for a spot on the varsity.
"In the beginning, freshman year, he beginning, freshman year, he thought he had a chance," Harvard JV Coach Kevin Hampe says. "I think though, he realized soon enough that it probably wasn't going to happen."
The turning point came sophomore year. Chuck became bigger and stronger, a little faster, a bit smoother with the puck. None of those things were enough. This was the winter of 1986, when even John Murphy and Scott McCormack--both first-liners this season and owners of NCAA championship rings--were relegated to the JV level. Coach Bill Cleary was drowning in talent--and Chuck Fletcher wasn't even on his list.
"After that year, I knew I wouldn't ever make it, so I took the year off," says Chuck, who went home for the 1988 Winter Olympics. He was a merchandiser for the Canadian Olympic team that winter and has since put in a summer working with the Vancouver Canucks.
"When Chuck came back, I think he had a different outlook about school and the game," Hampe says. "I think when he
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