Where do the Flyers go from here?

Flyers-Hextall Fired Hockey
FILE – In this April 11, 2016, file photo, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall speaks with members of the media during a NHL hockey news conference in Voorhees, N.J. The Flyers fired Hextall on Monday, Nov. 26, 2018. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, FIle)

When Ron Hextall took over as the General Manager of the Flyers on May 7, 2014, he envisioned a long-term commitment to the Draft, while preaching patience to the fans. Hextall has just been on a tear trying to keep this young Flyers core together for many years to come in the future. His hard-work and dedication to the team appeared to be paying off with making the playoffs 2 out of 3 seasons during the Dave Hakstol era. However, in year four of the Hakstol era, Hextall has been faced with some roadblocks. His young Flyers team is just flat-out inconsistent, and they needed a new face. Well, today it begins, as Hextall was relieved of his duties of General Manager of the Flyers. A shocker to many fans that he was canned before Hakstol.

Hakstol (NHL coaching record 132-97-40) was hired by Hextall on May 18, 2015, as Hakstol formerly coached a very good hockey program at the University of North Dakota. He was known as having the stare, and apparently was good with grooming young talent. For instance, Hakstol eventually groomed Zach Parise and TJ Oshie into NHL mainstays. However, in year four of his tenure as Head Coach of the Flyers, they are inconsistent once again early in the season, in a season the orange and black were supposed to take the next step in terms of their rebuild. Hakstol did seem a little nervous this morning as he states, “It’s a tough morning, a tough morning. I’m going to continue to focus and work on that job to the best of my abilities. That’s what I told the players. I don’t look over my shoulders.” Here’s a breakdown of the Flyers record at Thanksgiving, during Hakstol’s tenure as Head Coach of the orange and black:

2015-16- (7-10-5)

2016-17- (9-9-3)

2017-18- (8-9-5)

2018-19- (9-10-2)

There’s no doubt the Flyers are very inconsistent to start the season once again. They win one game and lose the next, or they lose four and win three. Yes, injuries have played a large part of the inconsistencies for this team this season, mainly to the Goaltenders, but every team has an injury or two. However, this type of play cannot continue, and the orange and black should be better than a borderline .500 team right now. There are just no excuses for this type of play, and Hextall should have acted sooner. Hextall became the hunted, and Paul Holmgren dismissed him for not sharing the same, “Philosophical approach.”

Hextall was primarily canned for not firing Hakstol, and the Goaltending carousel that ensues today sure didn’t help matters. The lackluster Penalty Kill can also be a part of his dismissal, as well. However, there were some good things that Hextall did for this organization. For instance, relieving the Flyers from cap hell, and stockpiling Grade “A” prospects.

Now the search begins for a new General Manager. Some early names being rumored are Chris Pronger, Ron Francis, Dean Lombardi, Chuck Fletcher, Scott Mellanby, and let’s mention Steve Yzerman as he’s still available. Whomever, the next General Manager of the orange and black is, hopefully they will take a risk with trading some blue chip prospects for immediate talent. Unfortunately, this was another area that Hextall should have prioritized. Hextall identified the problems with the team, but failed to act.

This is a big step in the right direction for this young Flyers team. Hopefully, the next General Manager can right the ship, and catapult the Flyers to a first round playoff series victory. One thing is certain the future is bright in Flyer land.

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