Ron Hextall

Hextall doesn’t think Flyers are elite, but ‘that doesn’t mean we can’t win’


Head on over to CSN Philly for the third of a four-part Q&A with Flyers general manager Ron Hextall, who had the following to say about Philadelphia’s chances of breaking its Stanley Cup drought in 2014-15:

“The thing I look at and my focus right now is to get us into that elite group. I will say I don’t think we’re with that elite group but that doesn’t mean we can’t win. You can fricking win. It comes down to will and everything else. The Rangers are a good example. Are they in that group right now where we say, ‘OK, these are the top few teams in the league that can win the Cup?’ … We want to get into that elite group and I believe we are headed in that direction. It’s tough to put a time [table] on it.”

All in all, a pretty fair response. The Flyers have a good deal of talent up front, but there are legitimate question marks on the blue line and in goal. Hextall knows that. But he also knows his team plays in the Eastern Conference, which doesn’t boast the number of “elite” teams the West does. A run to the Stanley Cup Final would be a bit of a surprise, sure, but not a complete shock.

Hextall also had this to say about a Flyers organization that’s lost six times in the finals since last winning the Cup in 1975:

“This has been a successful franchise. Don’t lose sight of that. I won’t name anybody, but there are other franchises that have not won for a long time,  never won and never been successful. That’s where if I were fan, I’d be frustrated. Not the Philadelphia Flyers … This organization is 100 percent committed to winning. If I am a fan, that is the important thing.”

Related: Hextall is looking for more offensively from Couturier

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.