With Flyers low on morale, is Dave Hakstol receiving unfair criticism?


The Philadelphia Flyers are clearly in rebuild mode and have been for the past two seasons. General Manager Ron Hextall has done a great job in retooling the farm system with young prospects. Will they all pan out..maybe not, but some will. The Flyers have been inconsistent all year. As a matter of fact, looking back to the former head coach Craig Berube era, they have remained just as inconsistent. Dave Hakstol and former head coach Craig Berube have something in common. Both coaches have found themselves fighting for their jobs in just year two, as being a head coach of the Flyers. When do we start holding players accountable as opposed to the coaches?

After the Flyers got crushed against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night 6-2, it’s no secret the Flyers have low morale. One thing that did come out from the loss, is that some people in Philadelphia believe Hakstol will be dismissed at years end. To quote David Isaac, who is a writer for the Courier Post, in an article he wrote following Thursday’s loss to the Devils:

Hakstol was wooed to Philadelphia from the University of North Dakota two years ago by Ron Hextall. He’s not concerned that the inconsistency of the Flyers — something that’s plagued the team all season long — may cost him his job.”

Isaac happens to be a great sports writer for the Flyers. He could have written that article because some may think Hakstol will be dismissed at years end. Some point to the inconsistencies of the Flyers play throughout the year, as one reason for Hakstol to be dismissed. This does not mean Isaac personally thinks Hakstol will be fired. However, this talk should not happen to a second year head coach, that took the same Flyers team to the playoffs just one year ago. Hakstol should not have to defend his job in just his second year as head coach of the Flyers. Its no wonder the team has low morale.

Brayden Schenn was asked after Thursday’s defeat to the Devils, if Hakstol is responsible for the inconsistencies of play of the Flyers current team. Schenn then stated:

That’s not my job to start worrying about the coach and stuff like that. It’s on us players to go out and play better. I’m not even going to start commenting on that. Us players have to be better and we know it. We’ve been inconsistent all year and that’s on the players.”

Hakstol was a coveted coach that was lured here by Hextall for one reason, to groom the young prospects like he did at the University of North Dakota. He groomed stars, such as, Tj Oshie and Zach Parise. Hakstol had an impressive record during his ten year tenure at the University of North Dakota, amounting 289 wins-143 losses-43 ties. In addition, he made the NCAA tournament with a top four finish seven times. With this impressive resume, there is no wonder why Hextall would lure him to Philly.

Hakstol is a good coach that has the tools to make players better. He has made Shayne Gostisbehere into a better stay at home defenseman this season. In November of 2016, Hakstol made a gutsy unpopular decision to bench Gostisbehere for one game. He hoped that he would become a better sound defenseman in the Flyers zone after this benching. Gostisbehere had the tools offensively, but defensively he needed some attention. This decision paid off as Gostisbehere has gotten better defensively and offensively as the season has progressed.

The former University of North Dakota head coach, has done a good job with the current group of players he has been dealt with. The Flyers are still trying to rid themselves of cap constraints, which prevents them from obtaining top tier talents.

His current record as head coach of the Flyers is 73 wins, 57 losses, 22 ties, with a .553 winning percentage. Ironically, former head coach Craig Berube had an identical record when he was dismissed by the Flyers. His record was 75 wins, 58, losses, 28 ties, with a .553 winning percentage.

Hakstol has earned his right to be given more time to prove he is the right guy for the job. No one expected the Flyers to make the playoffs last season. He did a phenomenal job with the group he had last season. This rebuild season should be no different in terms of being on the playoff bubble. Why should we hold Hakstol acccountable, and not the players like Schenn has stated?

Follow me on Twitter @JameyBaskow for all Flyers updates.


Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports