Flyers

5 takeaways from former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall's press conference

5 takeaways from former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall's press conference

Former Flyers general manager Ron Hextall addressed the media Friday morning at the Wingate by Wyndham hotel in Voorhees, New Jersey.

Here are five takeaways from Friday's press conference:

1. Hextall was blindsided by firing

"I didn't see this coming in any way. I certainly didn't feel any warnings, so I was shocked that I was done," Hextall said. "The only thing [Flyers president Paul Holmgren] said is that 'your vision, my vision aren't the same.'"

Holmgren said Tuesday that he didn't give Hextall any notice because, as Holmgren said, "If you're going to do that … what's the sense?"

Most of us were caught off-guard by Hextall's firing, and we heard it from the man himself. He was blindsided by it, and rightfully so. We didn't see it coming, and neither did he.

2. Hexy didn't believe the Flyers were at 'go time'

Hextall explained his vision as a three-stage plan. The first was cleaning up the salary cap, the second was the in-between of implementing young players and the third was "go time."

"I didn't feel right now that we were at 'go time,'" Hextall said. "I did feel like we were getting close. But I didn't feel like we were there yet. Some of the growing pains that we're going through this year with the younger kids, the defense — that's a young defense.

"It's hard to win a Stanley Cup with a defense that age. Again, I wasn't willing to trade a young player or prospect for a guy in his mid-30s that might help us this year, might clog us up down the road and his game is dropping. Philosophically, that's where I was at."

Some items to unpack: Hextall is right that the Flyers aren't ready to compete with the NHL's elite. He also mentioned there have been more growing pains than anticipated with the young players, specifically on the blue line, and he's right there.

We also received some insight into the philosophical differences between him and Holmgren and there was some minor shade thrown by Hexy — about trading for a declining player in his mid-30s (see story).

One other note, Hextall's comments about the defense is that he was in a position to fill it out with better veteran complements than what's here. He very well could have.

3. 'I don't run a country club'

Hextall basically laughed about the speculation that he controlled what players ate.

"I controlled the food and stuff?" Hextall said. "What?"

He said the team hired a dietician and between her and Flyers director of sports science Ben Peterson, healthy eating habits were constructed.

"The only thing I met up front, I said we want to be healthy," Hextall said. "After games, we want to eat anti-inflammatory food versus pizza, which is the opposite. So, yeah, we did change a few things like that.

"But I see some of the [rumors] coming out … ay-yai-yai."

Hextall also touched on his locker room principles.

"The locker room — I don't run a country club, I don't believe in it. I don't believe you win that way," Hextall said. "Watching out in L.A. how we did it, how [Bob Clarke] did it, I believe in having tight doors, I believe in the sanctity of the locker room, I believe when the players are in the locker room, it should be the players — that's when that team bonding [is built].

"After games and practice days, I did close the locker room to people — fathers and kids could come in, obviously, and brothers. But one day I walked in and a guy had four of his buddies in our lounge on a practice day. And I was like, 'This is a place of work.' Like, you guys go to work and don't bring your four buddies to work, right?

"So there were some things that went on that I didn't like and we changed some things as a result. But I like structure, I'm a structured guy, I believe in structure."

4. Proud of the groundwork

Hextall said he was "disappointed as hell" this season started the way it did but believes the Flyers as a whole are "poised to do something great."

"Quite honestly, I'm proud of my four and a quarter years here," Hextall said. "We worked hard — scouting staff, management team, minor-league coaches, all the players — we worked hard and I feel like we accomplished a lot.

"We created an analytics department, we created a sports science department, we had the gym built, we had the development area built. We accomplished a lot of things and a lot of those things don't show above the water.

"I feel like some of the results are starting to show themselves."

What Hextall did to sort of restart the Flyers, build a foundation and change their way of thinking was impressive (see story). But half the battle is finishing — knowing when to take it to the next level, which was the big dilemma within this whole situation (see story).

5. Why address the media?

Not many fired general managers hold media availability after being axed.

Hextall was classy enough to do it. It wasn't to vent or anything.

He said he wanted to do it because he felt he owed it to the media members, the fans and selfishly, for some closure.

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Eric Lindros reveals awesome insight on his career during Twitter Q&A

Eric Lindros reveals awesome insight on his career during Twitter Q&A

There are so many Eric Lindros memories.

During his playing days, No. 88 was a rare breed of size and skill. Lindros' blend of strengths would still be rare in today's game.

His dynamic was intimidating and imposing because of those strengths, so to hear Lindros open up about his toughest opponents is really cool.

"Big E" did just that in a question-and-answer session Sunday on his Twitter account.

It's awesome to see Lindros talk hockey with his fans. He has always respected the knowledgeable fan base in Philly.

"Flyers players are lucky to play in a city where the fans truly know the game of hockey, appreciate the little things and are of course rowdy, but also show heart," Lindros said on his jersey retirement night in January 2018.

Here were Lindros' interactions Sunday night and we look forward to the next time.

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Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers' 2019-20 Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award, presented to the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect both on and off the ice.

Destra

The best part about the Flyers and their organization is that they are filled with top-notch people. Just about every player on the team could win this award. 

This year though, I’d have to go with Jakub Voracek. He is one of the most respected players on the ice but what stands out the most is the person he is off the ice. The person he is when the cameras aren’t on him. The person he is when it comes to being an ambassador for the phrase, "It’s more than just a game."

There are many examples from this season, but one of my favorites that simply showcases why Voracek should win the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Award dates back to Feb. 27-28, when the Flyers signed Blake Steigauf to a one-day contract.

All throughout this video, you catch glimpses of Voracek with Steigauf, but the one moment that stuck with me was the shot of him waiting for the 15-year-old to come off the ice and into the tunnel before heading back to the locker room. 

All class. 

Emmer

The Flyers' dressing room is full of players with good character and high respect for the game, so this one was hard for me. 

This season, I’m picking Matt Niskanen.   

Niskanen is a highly respected, veteran player in the league and general manager Chuck Fletcher knew that when he decided to bring him in during the offseason.  

Coming into this year, the 33-year-old had 14 NHL seasons under his belt, 10 playoff runs and a Stanley Cup in 2018 — he had the experience the blue line needed.  

Where I think Niskanen really exceeded expectations so far this season is the leadership he brings. He’s highly respected by his teammates and has some of the best well-rounded character you could ask for in your dressing room.

We’re all able to see the example he sets on the ice with the defensive group as well as the team as a whole. He has certainly helped with the Flyers’ success this season. On top of that, he sets an example off the ice by showing respect toward those around him, from the Flyers’ personnel to members of media.

He has been a great addition to the team and I believe he’s the most deserving of the Yanick Dupre Award.  

Hatcher

I’m giving it to Niskanen. This was tough for all the right reasons though. I think you could make a case for quite a few players on the team to take this one home.

There are a lot of great guys in that dressing room that are both the type of player and the type of person you’d want on your hockey team. But when you say “character, dignity and respect,” my mind jumps right to Niskanen. He holds himself and his teammates accountable in the most respectful way following tough contests. He has experienced success and exudes the maturity that comes with that, without ever talking about it or being boastful about it.

He’s the “Steady Eddie” of the team, keeping things in balance on the ice and off it. Never complains, not even with 15 stitches in his nose. And beyond his character contributions, he’s been exactly what Fletcher hoped he’d be in terms of a player — a dependable defenseman that has perfectly complemented Ivan Provorov on the Flyers' top D pairing.

Hall

During his first season in Philadelphia, Kevin Hayes has fully embraced the community on top of augmenting the dynamic in the Flyers' dressing room.

Through a mixture of lightheartedness and leadership, Hayes has brought the Flyers closer together. The 27-year-old center has been a quality teammate and a go-to interview all season.

He has shown nothing but respect and character in his dealings with fans, media members and Flyers employees.

There isn't a bad choice here, but Hayes' value has gone beyond the ice.

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