Three years ago, Chuck Fletcher pulled Craig Leipold off Xcel Energy Center’s draft floor to tell the Wild owner: “It’s done. We’re going to trade Brent Burns.”

Leipold instantly got butterflies: “I’m thinking, ‘Oh geez, we’re in our arena. What reaction are we going to get by trading an incredibly popular player?’ ”

Fletcher, the Wild general manager, was nervous, too. His daughter, Kaitlin, 13 at the time, was the Wild’s draft runner. So before NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Burns was heading to San Jose for Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round pick, Fletcher shooed Kaitlin to the other end of the table in case, as assistant GM Brent Flahr said, “we had food thrown at us.”

“It was pretty evident quickly that our fans were happy,” Leipold said. “They weren’t happy losing Burnzie. They were very happy they had a GM that wasn’t scared to pull the trigger if he felt it would make the team better.”

It has been five years and a month since Leipold hired a brown-haired, 42-year-old Fletcher, a Harvard graduate who grew up inside the game as Hall of Fame manager Cliff Fletcher’s son.

He inherited a bare-boned franchise that had lost respected coach Jacques Lemaire and was about to lose goal scorer Marian Gaborik. The Wild had no prospects close to making the NHL leap and a roster full of 30-somethings and bad contracts.

Despite a franchise in need of rebuild, Fletcher never envisioned missing the playoffs his first three seasons. It has been a grind, but in the past two years the Wild made the playoffs and last season advanced to the conference semifinals.