Philadelphia Flyers fans were waiting for the organization to make a change of some sort following the team’s 10-11-2 start. On Monday morning, it was announced that general manager Ron Hextall was fired.
“The Flyers organization has decided to relieve Ron Hextall of his duties as Executive Vice President and General Manager,” wrote Flyers President Paul Holmgren in a statement. “We thank Ron for his many significant contributions, but it has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team. In light of these differences, we feel it’s in the organization’s best interests to make a change, effective immediately. I have already begun a process to identify and select our next General Manager, which we hope to complete as soon as possible.”
The Flyers hired Hextall as GM in May 2014. One year later he made the surprising move of hiring North Dakota’s Dave Hakstol as head coach. The two had a relationship already with Hextall’s son having played college hockey under Hakstol.
That could have also played a part in why Hextall stuck with Hakstol despite a 10-game losing streak a year ago and the rough start to this season, even as there seems to be a different goalie injury every week.
The line in Holmgren’s statement “we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team” is interesting because it makes you wonder if some in the Flyers organization wanted Hakstol canned, but Hextall, as he did a year ago, wanted to preach patience and not make a switch behind the bench.
Under Hextall, the Flyers made the playoffs twice and were bounced in six games both times in the opening round.
The team has compiled a good cupboard of prospects and younger players currently on the NHL roster under his watch like Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Carter Hart, Nolan Patrick, and Morgan Frost. But there was no big trade that helped push the team from playoff bubble to contender. There were a lot of draft picks brought in and one big free agent signing (James van Riemsdyk). None of that has led to the team taking that next step. We can also never forget about the inability to find a solution in net while they wait for 20-year-old Hart to be NHL ready.
Now that Hextall is gone, how much rope does Hakstol have left? That will be up to the new general manager since this wasn’t a full house cleaning. One win in their last six games and no signs of a turnaround might necessitate another big change coming soon for the Flyers.