Flyers continue purge, fire assistant GM, assistant coach

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers have continued their organizational purge, firing their assistant general manager and an assistant coach.

The Flyers fired Chris Pryor and Gord Murphy on Wednesday, a day after the Flyers blew a two-goal lead in the third period and lost 4-3 to Ottawa. The dismissals come two days after the Flyers fired general manager Ron Hextall following 4+ seasons on the job.

The Flyers are 10-12-2 and in last place in the Eastern Conference.

Pryor had worked for the Flyers for 19 seasons, first joining them as a scout. He worked his way up through the organization and was promoted to director of player personnel and assistant GM in 2016.

Murphy, who played four seasons with the Flyers, was hired as an assistant coach in 2014.

Flyers President Paul Holmgren said this week that the next general manager will decide the job status of coach Dave Hakstol.

Holmgren said Wednesday he does not ”anticipate any further personnel moves in the near term.”

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Flyers eye new approach in GM, unlike ‘unyielding’ Hextall

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers fired general manager Ron Hextall because – to swipe a page from their glory days – he was Broad Street Bullheaded.

Hextall preached patience.

The Flyers want to win now.

That clash of ideology turned toxic in Philadelphia’s front office, and it cost Hextall his job in his fifth season as GM. Paul Holmgren, the Flyers’ loyalist and team president, had few solid answers Tuesday as to why he made the move, other than to repeatedly call Hextall ”unyielding.”

Hextall’s arrival signaled a new era in Flyers history, one where short-term fixes, big-budget spending and mortgaging the farm system were no longer in vogue. He gamely tried to restock the farm system and refused to make a major trade for a star that could instantly inch the Flyers closer toward contention.

And when all that got the Flyers were a pair of first-round playoff exits and a 10-11-2 record this season, Hextall got the boot.

”He was unyielding in his plan and remained that way,” Holmgren said. ”Good for him. He’s a well-thought out, deep-thinking guy.”

The deep thoughts included packaging draft picks and prospects for All-Stars capable of carrying Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jake Vorcek and James van Riemsdyk at least into May.

The Flyers expect to hire a GM in weeks and he’ll have to make an urgent decision: keep or fire coach Dave Hakstol.

”I hate to say Dave Hakstol’s fate is in the next GM’s hands but it is,” Holmgren said. ”I’m not going to make that decision.”

Hakstol, 132-97-40 in three–plus seasons, was set to coach the Flyers on Tuesday night against Ottawa.

Holmgren said he never asked Hextall to fire the coach he hired with no NHL experience out of North Dakota. But Holmgren said Hextall had told him ”of course, I’m thinking about it.”

But, Holmgren added, ”he never did it.”

The Flyers did at least discuss the potential of adding Joel Quenneville after the Chicago Blackhawks fired the three-time Stanley Cup champion coach.

”I can tell you his name came up right away when he was let go,” Comcast Spectacor CEO Dave Scott said. ”I think Ron was set on, stay the course.”

With his biggest backer gone, and the Flyers wallowing, Hakstol’s job is in serious danger.

”I like Hak. I think he’s done a decent job under the circumstances he’s coached under,” Holmgren said.

”Decent” isn’t exactly an encouraging vote of confidence. Hakstol has had his issues – the Flyers are last in the NHL in the penalty kill (69.7 percent) – but Hextall’s decision to enter the season with two oft-injured goalies haunted the team. The Flyers have matched a franchise-high with five goalies this season while prized prospect Carter Hart lingers in the minors.

”Is he our long-term solution? I don’t know that,” Holmgren said. ”I’m not prepared to answer that. That’s another topic for the next GM.”

Holmgren punted about every major issue facing the Flyers to the next GM, and there are plenty of top candidates. The Flyers have about $7 million in salary cap space, and enough talent that should entice some heavy hitters for the job. Former Los Angeles Kings GM Dean Lombardi, who won two Cups and now works for the Flyers, told Holmgren he wasn’t interested. But Chuck Fletcher, Ron Francis, Sean Burke and Brian Burke are sure to pique the interest of a team eyeing its first Stanley Cup since the back-to-back titles in 1974 and 1975.

”What can we do now, today, to make the team better now? Not two years or three years from now,” Scott said.

Hextall was criticized for refusing to listen to scouts and advisers and had been accused of cutting off alumni from access to the team. Hextall, a star goalie and one of the franchise’s more popular players, had wanted his own process on his terms.

”His plan was his plan and we’re really hoping for a little more openness going forward,” Scott said.

Asked when the Flyers decided to shift from long-term rebuild to legitimate contention, Holmgren was blunt.

”We’re in the fifth year,” Holmgren said. ”That’s a long time in hockey years.”

The Flyers haven’t made the Cup finals since 2010 and haven’t won a playoff round since 2012.

”It’s a long time,” Scott said. ”We’re gonna go for it.”

The decision to dump Hextall was about dollars and cents as much as it was the state of the roster. Fan apathy is at a low, attendance is down and tickets are steeply discounted on StubHub. There is little buzz apart from the new googly-eyed mascot.

What’s more, the 76ers, their fellow Wells Fargo Center tenant, have overtaken the city in popularity, with big stars and packed houses.

”They were having some challenges and then (Jimmy) Butler coming certainly helps things,” Scott said.

So the Flyers need their own Butler?

”Couldn’t hurt, that’s for sure,” he said, laughing.

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Report: Flyers promote Ron Hextall as GM, Holmgren to president

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The Philadelphia Flyers front office will have a new look to it very soon.

The Flyers have called a press conference at 11:30 a.m. ET to announce front office promotions. According to Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com, the announcement will be to promote Paul Holmgren as the team president and Ron Hextall as the new general manager.

This news comes as a bit of a surprise as it was less than a week ago it was announced Holmgren was staying on as the GM. Instead now he’s moving on up and Hextall takes over. Perhaps the rash of GM openings around the league pressed the Flyers into action if they wanted to retain Hextall.

Hextall has been an assistant GM since 2006. After seven years with the Los Angeles Kings in that role, Hextall became Holmgren’s assistant GM with the Flyers in July 2013. He’s been preparing and ready for a job like this for some time now.

Holmgren has been the Flyers GM since 2006-07 when he took over for Bobby Clarke. He’s been in the Flyers organization since 1995-96 when he was the head of pro scouting and then moved up to assistant GM in 1997-98.

Flyers brass wants more from Lecavalier next season

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It was a trying first season in Philadelphia for Vincent Lecavalier.

He missed 13 games with injury and went through the motions of adapting to a new team. While he finished the season with 20 goals, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren and owner Ed Snider both expressed hope he’ll pick things up next season as Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com shares.

He’s a good hockey player,” Snider said. “He got 20 goals with all the problems … he had a problem this year, but it’s got to be solved by next year.”

Holmgren said he was “disappointed”  for, not in, Lecavalier for how things went this season and said, “a lot of things went against him.”

The Flyers signed Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million deal last summer after the former Tampa Bay Lightning captain was bought out by the team.

At 34 years old, Lecavalier’s best seasons are likely behind him and if there’s something for the Flyers to be nervous about, it’s his health. The last time he played a full season was 2009-10. If his health can get settled down, perhaps he can have a stronger season in 2014-15.

Flyers GM says Downie is out indefinitely

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The Philadelphia Flyers have been going without Steve Downie since April 10 and will have to soldier on without him for an unknown amount of time.

Flyers GM Paul Holmgren gave a brief update on Downie’s condition and, as Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly.com shares, he’s out indefinitely. The question here is whether Downie was sat down because he played poorly or because he was hurt. Coach Craig Berube didn’t do much to clear that up.

Well, a little bit of both,” Berube said. “He made those mistakes and I was not obviously happy. There’s other things.”

Those “other things” could be a concussion. Downie was battling an injury he suffered against the St. Louis Blues on March 22. After returning on April 8, he played two games before being sat down again.

After seeing Daniel Carcillo score against the Flyers last night, the pangs to have a guy like Downie return to the lineup to be an effective irritant might be feeling stronger.