Ron Hextall Was “Fly Or Die” Before It Was the Flyers Brand


Just around this time last year, then Philadelphia Flyers General Manager, Ron Hextall, was relieved of his front office duties. Hextall was the one responsible for hiring, then Flyers head coach, Dave Hakstol. The team had talent last season. The difference this season is that they aren’t playing without passion. Another difference would be the current General Manager, Chuck Fletcher, who took over for Ron Hextall and hired Alain Vigneault to replace Hakstol, who would be fired from Philadelphia.

We look at the pieces that make Alain Vigneault’s new system thrive. This is a new scheme implemented by a new head coach, but why does it work with the players that Ron Hextall developed and drafted? It’s as if Hextall was sitting on the future of the Philadelphia Flyers before he was let go. While Chuck Fletcher and Vigneault are doing great things currently together, how much of that has to do with what Hextall left behind? Did Hextall plant the seeds of a developmental process for the Flyers?

“Process” is a word, mantra, and brand that resonates deeply with Philadelphia sports. Look at the Philadelphia 76ers and the impact that Sam Hinkie brought to that team for seasons to come. While Hinkie had to exchange talent outright for players and picks, he planned to compile as many picks as he could to beat the probability of securing talent in the draft. In a way, that is on the same path as what Ron Hextall did for the Flyers. Not only did he draft players and develop prospects, but Hextall’s hallmark is evident in the growth of current Philadelphia Flyers goaltender, Carter Hart.

Sam Hinkie’s “Process”

Pre-Hinkie Draft Picks:
2013: PHI 1st, PHI 2nd, NO 2nd
2014: PHI 2nd
2015: PHI 1st, PHI 2nd
2016: PHI 2nd
2017: PHI 1st, PHI 2nd

Post-Hinkie Draft Picks:
2013: PHI 1st, NO 1st, NYK 2nd
2014: PHI 1st, ORL 1st, PHI 2nd, CLE 2nd, BKN 2nd, MEM 2nd, LAC 2nd
2015: PHI 1st, ORL 2nd, DEN 2nd, NO 2nd, HOU 2nd, GSW 2nd
2016: PHI 1st, MIA 1st, OKC 1st, DEN 2nd
2017: PHI 1st, LAL 1st, PHI 2nd
2019: PHI 1st, SAC 1st, PHI 2nd

Ron Hextall was let go from the Philadelphia Flyers franchise because he didn’t rid the franchise of Dave Hakstol. That is the skinny, but it’s the truth. Hextall did more good for the Flyers than bad, but as long as Hakstol was still mediocre, it reflected Hextall’s decision-making with coaches. In the same frame of mind, Sam Hinkie as General Manager lost between 77%-82% of his regular-season games for the Philadelphia 76ers. He lost a lot, but because of his planning for the bigger picture and his gusto to “play the long game,” Hinkie’s preparation put the Sixers in position to be great.

Ron Hextall Notable Draft Picks

2014: D Travis Sanheim, RW Nicolas Aube-Kubel, and LW Oskar Lindblom
2015: D Ivan Provorov, C Travis Konecny, G Felix Sandstrom, C Mikhail Vorobyev
2016: C German Rubtsov, G Carter Hart, LW Carsen Twarynski, C Connor Bunnaman
2017: C Nolan Patrick, C Morgan Frost, D Issac Ratcliffe, LW Matthew Strome
2018: LW Joel Farabee, C Jay O’Brien

His decision to stand by Dave Hakstol as head coach was less than desirable. Besides that, Ron Hextall had an eye for scouting and drafting. He moved up to get several of these players that are making a large impact for the Philadelphia Flyers under Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault. In his selections is a franchise goaltender, possibly two franchise defensemen, a franchise center, and possibly two franchise wingers. The man drafted a whole legitimate NHL starting lineup!

In “The Perfect Storm,” the captain goes down with his ship. In Philadelphia, Ron Hextall went down with Dave Hakstol. Chuck Fletcher and Alain Vigneault deserve all the praise in the world too, because they didn’t falter on what was already outlined for them. The question is, where would the Philadelphia Flyers be without the scouting and drafting under Hextall’s regime? Hextall was “Fly Or Die” before Fletcher and Vigneault arrived in Philadelphia.

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports