State of the Flyers: The fans deserve better


What to do? What to do? What to do? These thoughts have to be going through General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers Ron Hextall’s mind night after night these past few weeks. Hextall stated to David Isaac on October 23, 2018, “I’m a pretty patient guy, but things need to start going better here.” Well, after a 6-0 drubbing to the Toronto Maple Leafs this past Saturday, and the team not going anywhere at the moment. When is enough, enough? When do the Flyers pull the trigger on a move?

I’m pretty certain every Flyers fan and their mother is thinking the same thing. At this point, no matter how many points the orange and black remain out of first (7), or a playoff spot for that matter in the Division (4), the fans were promised a product that was ready to take the next step of the rebuild this season. They were promised a product that would be ready to contend. The fans deserve better, especially for all that they have done for this organization.

The proud orange clad fans throughout the world have supported the Flyers. The elderly have made this team thrive, the Military Veterans, the common fans, and fans who have groomed their babies into loving this organization. That’s how the Flyers are still relevant, and even Gritty has seen success because of the FANS. Give this team a jolt, give the fans what they want for once, give this team a winner by either giving this team a new face, or making a trade. Some type of change is needed NOW, not later.

Throughout all my years of following Flyers hockey, I’ve never seen ticket prices on Stub Hub for $10. But, that’s exactly what the going rate is for a ticket to tomorrow’s game against the Ottawa Senators. The Flyers are faced with a stale product, a product that seems to be retracting. Yes, injuries to our Goaltenders are one cause of the team’s inconsistencies this season. However, injuries are no excuse as every team has them. Hextall deserves blame for this one, by trusting a Brian Elliott who was coming off major abdominal surgery to be 100% by the time the season started. Moreover, Hextall rolled the dice with an unhealthy Michal Neuvirth to carry the load if need be, and he has shown he cannot stay healthy for more than two weeks. Not solidifying the Goaltending position in the off-season has blown up in Hextall’s face. Heck even Steve Mason is still available. Mason is far better, than the Goaltending corps the Flyers have at the current moment, if Hextall doesn’t want to make a trade for one. I’m not advocating Mason’s services, I’m just merely stating that there are no excuses.


Hakstol’s Tenure and Over Reliance with Veterans
One thing that we have learned throughout Hakstol’s tenure is his stubbornness to overuse Veterans over Youth. I have defended him to no end with how he has groomed the young in the past. However, I cannot do that anymore. After Nicolas Aube-Kubel was sent back to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms last week, and Oskar Lindblom’s demotion to the fourth line, Hakstol has shown his over reliance with his Veterans once again. Yes, Dale Weise has played well in the top 6, but does he deserve to be in the top 6 after being waived earlier in the season? It’s mind-boggling that Lindblom who has had a solid campaign was demoted to the fourth line. Even Jori Lehtera, and Andrew MacDonald has seen a spot start.

It’s a slap to the face of hard-working Flyers fans to see Weise gather more ice time, than a player who may actually have impacted the game. For instance, Lindblom only gathered 12:18 of ice time against the Maple Leafs compared to Weise’s ice time of 14:35. To further this point Scott Laughton’s ice time for the game against the Maple Leafs was 12:47. Are you kidding me? Laughton has been one of the most consistent Forwards, and may be in the future plans of the team, Weise however is not. Make no mistake Weise has been playing solid hockey for once, but this Flyers team was branded as the future for years by Hakstol and Hextall. It’s a slap in the face for the patient Flyers fans, as they have waited patiently for the past five years of Hextall’s tenure for a contender. How much more patient can the fans be with this rebuild? I mean the Colorado Avalanche, and Buffalo Sabres have surpassed the orange and black in terms of their rebuild, and these two teams started their rebuild after the Flyers.


Hakstol should be relieved of his job duties immediately. The Penalty Killing have been bottom feeders for the past few years, and Hakstol’s slow starts to the season have taken a toll on the team when they make the playoffs. Let’s look at Hakstol’s record Pre-Thanksgiving:

2018-19: 9-10-2

2017-18: 8-9-5

2016-17: 9-9-3

2015-16: 7-10-5

The team’s rivals in the Pittsburgh Penguins made two coaching moves in 2009 and 2016, and they won the Stanley Cup respectively in both seasons. Dan Bylsma was the second mid-season replacement to win the Stanley Cup, and Mike Sullivan became the 6th coach in history to win the Stanley Cup, that was hired mid-season. One question what’s holding the Flyers back from making this coaching change?


The Flyers are in need of a top four Defenseman, and a reliable Goaltender. One Defenseman that stands out in my mind is Alec Martinez of the Los Angeles Kings. He’s logs 21:21 of ice time on a nightly basis. Hextall is familiar with this organization, and this would show the fans that the orange and black mean business.

Some Goaltenders that will hit the free agent market in 2019 are Pekka Rinne, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Cam Talbot. Acquiring one of these prime Goaltenders could be tough, but it’s possible. This would also show the hard working Flyers fans that they are ready for the next step. The Philadelphia 76ers went after Jimmy Butler, so why can’t the Flyers prove to the fans they want to be contenders. Let’s make no mistake Don Cherry was right on Saturday when he stated, “The Flyers haven’t had a Goaltender since Hextall.” So, what’s holding Hextall back from making a move?

The Flyers need a move now, not later. The fans deserve it. They embraced the new mascot Gritty, and continue to spend hard earned money on a stale product, even when ticket prices are this low. Hextall preached patience, patience, patience to the fans when he was hired on May 7, 2014, to the great fans of Philadelphia. Well, they have been patient enough. Now is the time for Hextall to prove to the fans that he indeed means business.


Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports