Respected writer applauds Ron Hextall, Dave Hakstol

Respected writer applauds Ron Hextall, Dave Hakstol

Remember those "Fire Hakstol" chants?

They were belted out by some fans at the Wells Fargo Center during the Flyers' ninth straight loss, a miserable 3-1 finish to the Sharks on Nov. 28.

What felt like the real low of this season so far forced general manager Ron Hextall to issue a state of the union address for his hockey club less than an hour after those chants were spouted into the air.

Including that moment, Hextall ever since has firmly defended and endorsed his head coach Dave Hakstol.

Hextall, a man of immense patience and a stay-the-course mentality, was not about to waver because of a group of disgruntled fans.

“If we were playing poorly, I’d be the first to say, ‘We’re playing poorly,’" Hextall said that night. "I would be. We are not playing poorly and to look objectively at our team right now and to say we’re playing poorly, no."

A day later, on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Philly Sports Talk, Hextall made himself especially clear regarding Hakstol's job security.

"He's the guy," Hextall said. "Dave Hakstol is our coach and he's going to remain our coach."

Maybe it wasn't what some fans wanted to hear, but Hextall didn't care.

And one well-respected writer, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, has been impressed with how both Hextall and Hakstol have responded. Here's what Friedman had to write Monday in his 31 Thoughts, a popular read among hockey people:

You’re always curious to learn how a new GM will react to a difficult situation, but I really liked the way both Ron Hextall (and Dave Hakstol) handled the “Fire Hakstol” chants and pressure in Philadelphia.

That organization has a historically short leash for coaches, but Hextall made it clear he wants to change that. He showed up in the dressing room to defend his coach, and, days later, passionately informed the media Hakstol wasn’t going anywhere. (The only thing missing from that burst was Hextall chopping down reporters with a goalie stick.)

Hakstol said he knows what he signed up for. The Flyers don’t admit it, but privately, word is they feel one year away from a true assessment of how good they are. Second, Hextall worked hard to convince Hakstol to leave North Dakota three summers ago, luring him to Pennsylvania with what is believed to be a six-year contract. He’s invested in his coach.

The Flyers fired Peter Laviolette three games into the 2013-14 season. They axed John Stevens 25 games into the 2009-10 campaign. And they got rid of Ken Hitchcock eight games into the 2006-07 slate.

There's definitely a history of short leashes, as Friedman mentioned.

But Hextall is not a guy that gets easily rattled by outside pressures. It probably makes him trust his evaluation and gut even more.

After the losing streak hit 10 games, the Flyers won three straight by sweeping their Western Canada road trip. Now they're back at the Wells Fargo Center for five games in a row, starting Tuesday.

A little more pressure at home sweet home.

h/t to NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Tom Dougherty.

Why Shayne Gostisbehere had to delete his Twitter app

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AP Images

Why Shayne Gostisbehere had to delete his Twitter app

Shayne Gostisbehere on Wednesday penned a beautifully-written piece on The Players' Tribune crediting his sister, Felicia Gostisbehere, for pushing him to be an NHL player.

Gostisbehere also touched on his love of the Florida Panthers growing up, how Pavel Bure inspired him as a kid and how hockey in Florida was never the same after Bure left. He wrote about being drafted by the Flyers, falling in love with Philly fans, the rookie season that captured the city and the three overtime game-winners in his first NHL season.

"My exact reaction was, What the f*** is happening right now?" Gostisbehere wrote of when he saw an electronic billboard Walt Whitman Bridge.

As jaw-dropping as his rookie season was, his sophomore campaign with the Flyers was a fall back to earth. Gostisbehere underwent hip surgery and faced adversity throughout, including three healthy scratches.

"I know people made a lot of me being a healthy scratch last year," Gostisbehere wrote. "It was tough to deal with, yes, but I understood it."

Gostisbehere wrote he's happy he went through the up-and-down season in 2016-17. He feels it made him a better hockey player, but there was one thing he did away with: one of the applications you're probably reading this on.

I won’t lie, though. I had to delete Twitter off my phone. During my rookie season, I loved scrolling through my mentions and interacting with fans, but when it wasn’t going well it was hard. You can only read “you’re a one-hit wonder” so many times before you go crazy.

Don't worry, Gostisbehere is still on Twitter. You can follow him @s_ghost14. Last week, he also created The GhostBear Foundation, an organization that "supports ill and disabled children, as well as at-risk or endangered animals."

To read Gostisbehere's full piece, click here. It's well worth the time.

Young cancer patients pump up Flyers by announcing lineup before game

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Young cancer patients pump up Flyers by announcing lineup before game

In sports, sometimes we need a reminder that there are bigger things than wins and losses.

Providing smiles for two youngsters battling cancer is a beautiful example.

Dave Hakstol and the Flyers helped make those special memories possible on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Maddie Swenson, 10, and DJ Allen, 12, both fighting cancer, were welcomed into the Flyers' locker room to offer some pregame motivation before the team hit the ice against the Sharks.

Swenson and Allen pumped up the guys by announcing the Flyers' starting lineup.

It was an awesome moment.

(Pictures courtesy of Flyers PR guru Zack Hill.)

Just four days ago, Swenson finished her final chemotherapy treatment. On Tuesday, she celebrated her 10th birthday. And last week, she met the Flyers after practice.

This is in conjunction with the NHL's #HockeyFightsCancer initiative.

Bravo to the Flyers and all those who push the cause forward — and, most notably, to those who continue to fight.