On Monday morning, the Philadelphia Flyers fired general manager Ron Hextall after starting the season 10-11-2. Hextall took office as general manager on May 7, 2014, and his teams made playoff appearances in two of four seasons.
Although Hextall could never take his team to a new level, he did an amicable job fixing the disaster left behind by his predecessor, Paul Holmgren. Hextall was able to clear out multiple bad contracts, including Braydon Couburn, Vincent Lecavalier, Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timomen.
The main failure in Hextall’s tenure was, ironically, goaltending. Following the subpar Ilya Bryzgalov regime, the Flyers could never find stable goaltending. This season alone, Philadelphia has rotated between Brian Elliot, Alex Lyon, Michal Neuvirth, Calvin Pickard and Anthony Stolarz.
Steve Mason was the team’s starter in the 2016 playoffs, and the legacy he left behind from that run was a goal from center ice off a Jason Chimera deflection.
Through all of Hextall’s successes, this will be the bane of his tenure. His apathy towards the roster at hand, including keeping the likes of Jori Lehtera and Andrew MacDonald around, have dictated fans’ perception of him.
At this point, a strife between Hextall and ownership seems to be the cause of the split. The two groups clearly did not see eye-to-eye on the future of the franchise and how soon it was to compete.
The Flyers have a number of quality prospects that Hextall brought in, including Joel Farabee, Carter Hart, Jay O’Brien and German Rubstov among others. The ideological difference may have come on behalf of Hextall wanting to stay par for the course and play the long-term game, while ownership may have wanted a more win-now approach.
Still, Hextall’s firing comes at great concern to the state of the franchise. The highest scrutinized part of the ordeal, rightfully, is that head coach Dave Hakstol stayed on board.
Hakstol’s tenure in Philadelphia has been much worse than Hextall’s. In his reign there, Hakstol has accomplished nothing besides poor deployment of personnel.
Today’s ordeals certainly calls into question the state of the Flyers moving forward. The team is currently floating in limbo, and no structure or leadership exists to propel it out of that state. There is plenty of work cut ahead for the team, and it comes at a time of rocky stability and a hierarchical change in November.
It remains to be seen who takes over as general manger for the Flyers. Still, it will take a few months to adjust to the new regime and system, especially if that comes with a coaching change — which for Philadelphia’s sake, hopefully it does.