Ron Hextall

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Ron Hextall: Flyers ‘not playing poorly’ during 9-game losing streak

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A nine-game losing streak.

A players-only closed-door meeting.

Fans calling for your head coach’s firing.

So how are things, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Ron Hextall?

“Actually, from the start of the year I’m pretty good with the way our team’s played, pretty good with the way our team’s played the last nine games,” he said after Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to San Jose. “I think tonight we ran out of a little bit of energy. Obviously, results lately are not very good. We deserved better but we haven’t gotten better. Obviously, we’ve got to find a way.”

[Flyers drop ninth in a row with heat on Hakstol]

Maybe Hextall is looking at the fact that his team has lost five of these nine games in overtime or the shootout, where a single bounce could have earned them the extra point. Or maybe he’s looking at those back-to-back shutouts at the hands of the Minnesota Wild, where nothing was going to get by Devan Dubnyk, who stopped all 62 shots he faced in the two games. Or hey, those possession numbers are OK (51 percent), per Corsica, and some of the top guys like Jakub Voracek (9 points), Claude Giroux (8), Sean Couturier (7) and Ivan Provorov (5) are contributing offensively as Wayne Simmonds (3) struggles.

What Hextall might not be looking at are the blown leads. During this nine-game skid, the Flyers have scored to take or extend leads 15 times. There’s also a penalty kill stumbling along at 70.3 percent and a team that’s been shorthanded 37 times, which is the most in the NHL since Nov. 11. You also have had a very young defense that’s allowed the fourth-most even strength shots (227, via Corsica) over that span. That’s why he was very happy to see the recent returns of Radko Gudas and Andrew MacDonald to the lineup.

But Hextall didn’t meet with the media after a ninth-straight loss to back the fans’ calls to fire Dave Hakstol or rip his players and threaten major changes. He believes the Flyers have been playing better than what the standings show and in his mind that’s a realistic view of the situation at the moment.

“If we were playing poorly, I would be the first to say we were playing poorly. I would be,” Hextall said. “We are not playing poorly. To look at objectively at our team right now, and to say we’re playing poorly, no. Are we shooting ourselves in the foot at times? Yes, we are. Critical mistakes at critical times, yes. It’s kind of what happens when the snowball starts to go the wrong way and you start doing things that are a little bit unpredictable. But you look at our effort and at times our execution, if you took the score away the last nine games that I’ve seen and tell me we’re 0-9, I’d be like, ‘come on.’

“So the point is we have to find ways to win. Nobody is looking for excuses around here We are going to battle through this. We are going to get through it.”

There’s only so much time left to start digging yourself out of self-created holes. The Flyers are six points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference as of Wednesday. How much longer will Hextall allow his head coach and players to “battle through this” before a hammer needs to drop?

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Under pressure: Jakub Voracek

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Jakub Voracek’s big contract extension won’t kick in until 2016-17, but expectations rose the minute the ink dried.

Fair or not, Philadelphia Flyers fans (and just about everyone else) may struggle to keep perspective regarding his huge contract extension if next season goes poorly. That’s the nature of the beast when you sign an enormous eight-year, $66 million extension.

The jump from a $4.25 million cap hit in 2015-16 to $8.2 million going forward means that the Czech winger will be placed under the microscope, yet it was easy to see the logic that GM Ron Hextall laid out after the big deal was announced.

“Once the season ended, you start looking at your priorities and clearly it was our No. 1 priority,” Hextall said in late July. “The Jake Voraceks of the world are few and far between. He certainly wasn’t a player we wanted to risk losing.”

If nothing else, it doesn’t sound like Voracek got a big head after scoring 22 goals and 81 points last season, the fourth-highest scoring total in the NHL. Really, it sounds like he needs to prove to himself that he is in select company.

“It’s hard,” Voracek said back in April, per CSNPhilly.com. “It’s been a long season. If I do it next year, maybe I can admit that I belong there [in that club]. Right now, I had one good season. It doesn’t end for me. Nothing changes. I will work hard this summer.”

Really, though, he’s been outstanding from more or less the moment he arrived in Philadelphia.

Since 2012-13, Voracek generated 189 points, the 10th best total in that span. (Claude Giroux is in third with 207.) You don’t do that well thanks to just “one good season.”

The most promising thing is that, even with more than 500 games of regular season experience, Voracek’s still quite young.

He turned 26 on Aug. 15, so he’ll be 27 when the extension begins. The Flyers still get some of his peak years, and his chances of living up to that contract increase greatly.

Maybe that’s why Jeremy Roenick believes he has plenty left in the tank?

No extension on the horizon for Flyers’ Brayden Schenn

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Flyers’ GM Ron Hextall has been busy handing out contract extensions this week inking both Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek; however, one player who won’t be getting an extension any time soon is Brayden Schenn.

The 23-year-old is heading into the final year of his two-year, $5 million contract and is set to become a restricted free agent next summer.

“I’ve spoken with Brayden’s agent a number of times over the summer about different things and the subject’s never come up,” Hextall said per CSNPhilly.com. “It’s not something we’re in a hurry to do and I’m assuming they feel the same way.”

Schenn, who scored a career-high 47 points to go along with 18 goals in 82 games last season, is headed into his fifth season with the Flyers.

A natural center, Schenn was used on the wing at times by former coach Craig Berube last season.

“From my perspective, he’s played a lot of games and he’s a young player that is growing and developing,” Flyers’ coach Dave Hakstol said. “I think I am going to allow that proof to be decided in his performance. I’m not making any decisions on anything that’s happened in the past. I think it’s about what you do from this point forward and that will be the case in this situation.”

In four seasons with the Flyers, Schenn has 58 goals and 132 points while appearing in 265 games.

Related: How do Voracek, Giroux compare to the most expensive duos?

Hextall to speak with Timonen about rejoining the Flyers

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With Kimmo Timonen’s playing days coming to an end in Monday night’s Stanley Cup victory, Philadelphia Flyers’ GM Ron Hextall intends speak with the 40-year-old about possibly rejoining the organization.

“I haven’t talked to him about it,” Hextall told CSN Philly on Tuesday. “That’s one of those things — I don’t believe you talk to players until they’re done. So once he gets back here, we’ll sit down and talk. And we’ll see which direction it goes.”

Timonen appeared in 573 regular season games over parts of seven seasons with the Flyers prior to being dealt to Chicago in February.

When talking about his retirement in March, Timonen hinted he may get into coaching.

Flyers name Dave Hakstol head coach

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The Philadelphia Flyers have named Dave Hakstol the 19th head coach in club history.

Hakstol joins the Flyers after spending 11 seasons at the University of North Dakota.

“Dave brings a wealth of head coaching experience and success to the Philadelphia Flyers organization,” said GM Ron Hextall. “He’s a proven winner and we are pleased to have him become part of the Flyers family.”

The 46-year-old compiled a 289-143-43 while at North Dakota. This past season Hakstol led the Fighting Sioux to a 29-10-3 record and a berth in the NCAA Frozen Four.

“I am extremely excited to be named the Philadelphia Flyers new head coach,” said Hakstol. “Through the process here with Ron [Hextall] and everybody in the Flyers organization I have gained even more of an understanding of the history and tradition of this organization and I’m very proud to become part of the Philadelphia Flyers today.”

For those looking for a connection between Hakstol and Hextall, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman has a couple:

Hakstol, who also played at North Dakota, has coached 20 players who went on to play in the NHL including Jonathan Toews, Matt Greene and T.J. Oshie.

“I have spent the better part of my professional life with the University of North Dakota hockey program and every day of it has been a privilege,” said Hakstol. “I’ve had the chance to work with and learn from some of the best people in hockey and I’m lucky to be able to call them my friends. I want to thank the staff, players and fans who have helped make this such a special place for our family.”

Hakstol replaces Craig Berube who was fired in April after parts of two seasons behind the Flyers’ bench.