Flyers

Did Ron Hextall's plan turn into bad business? Flyers believe it can be better

Did Ron Hextall's plan turn into bad business? Flyers believe it can be better

In April 2017, Dave Scott stood in the media room at Flyers Skate Zone and spoke radiantly about Ron Hextall's vision and the business success behind the process.

The Flyers had just missed the playoffs a year after making them. They won 39 games and put up 88 points in 2016-17, a drop-off from 2015-16, when the Flyers had 41 wins, 96 points and impressively made the postseason in Year 1 under Dave Hakstol.

But Scott, the chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor, saw the potential in Hextall's plan and believed in it. And it didn't hurt that the business side wasn't taking a dip, as well. Despite the team sitting out the playoffs, Scott called 2016-17 a "terrific year from the business perspective."

"It was probably one of the best years we've ever had," Scott said then. "Ron's our guy. We believe in the system, we like the vision, we like the strategy, the pipeline."

Something must've changed. Clearly, vision isn't results.

In a press conference Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center, Scott and Flyers president Paul Holmgren were discussing the firing of Hextall and the search for a new general manager.

Which begs the question: was the business suffering?

"On the business side, we have so much going on right now with the transformation, if you've toured our facility, I think there's a lot of excitement about that," Scott said. "But at the same time, you need to win hockey games, too. We feel pretty good. I mean, our attendance is good, we get all the league reports. I think a lot of the other teams would like to be in our position. But could it be better? Sure."

According to ESPN.com's figures, the Flyers are fourth among NHL teams in average attendance at 19,136. Last season, the Flyers were third at 19,517. Actual fans in the seats, though, are noticeable. This season, there's no denying the lower bowl of the Wells Fargo Center has been visibly emptier compared to the mezzanine level, where tickets are cheaper and the area is renovated.

There's also no denying fans have grown frustrated and impatient with the lack of progress on the ice. As Scott said, it's about winning hockey games.

And winning hockey games is good business. The Flyers haven't done enough of it, especially in Year 5 under Hextall as general manager, a season in which lopsided defeats and heavy boos were becoming more frequent by the game. 

A hockey person like Hextall always saw the long view, didn't see the rush; a businessperson like Scott eventually needed to see and feel his results.

"It's all about winning, whether it's in business or a hockey team and getting deep in the playoffs and winning the Cup — I mean, that's what we're all after," Scott said. "I personally feel our fans deserve better. I think we have great fans and they have been patient. My vision is that we'll invest everything that we have to and we'll look at every opportunity to make it better. This is about winning hockey games."

Like any other businessperson, Scott eyes return on investment.

"The bottom line is we just thought we needed to make more progress," Scott said.

Finding a new GM that can fulfill that wish is the next order of business.

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Flyers sign Mark Friedman to 2-year contract extension

Flyers sign Mark Friedman to 2-year contract extension

VOORHEES, N.J. — Mark Friedman took the ice Monday afternoon with a new contract for the next two seasons.

The Flyers signed the 24-year-old defenseman to a two-year, one-way contract extension with an average annual value of $725,000. Friedman was set to become a restricted free agent in the offseason.

Friedman has given the Flyers good depth to their crowded blue line. Head coach Alain Vigneault liked what he saw from Friedman in the 2014 third-round pick's six games with the club during the regular season.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder is reliable, quick on his feet and plays with purpose. Friedman looks like he'll be the Flyers' eighth defenseman during the NHL's return-to-play 24-team tournament. He was a part of the afternoon session Monday at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone as the team opened training camp in preparation for the resumption of the season.

Friedman will compete for a roster spot next season and serve as a dependable call-up option if he's with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

In the offseason, the Flyers will have to decide if they want to re-sign veteran Justin Braun, who has been good for them and can become an unrestricted agent. The Flyers' defense will get only more intriguing in 2020-21. The blue line is an area of strength for the Flyers, who are young at the position and have prospects nearing, as well.

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2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers training camp roster, practice schedule for 24-team tournament

2020 NHL playoffs: Flyers training camp roster, practice schedule for 24-team tournament

For the first time since March 11, a span of 124 days, the Flyers were back at Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone on Monday to hold formal training camp practices as they gear up for the return-to-play 24-team tournament.

The Flyers are allowed a max of 30 skaters and an unlimited number of goalies for training camp, which will be held over the next two weeks before the team travels to its Eastern Conference hub city Toronto. Come the tournament, the Flyers' roster can consist of at most 31 players, which includes goalies.

Practice begins at 10:30 a.m. ET Monday and all camp sessions are not open to the public. The Flyers will have one group of players practice from 10:30 am. to 11:30 a.m., and a second group practice from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. The team will release the list of players in each group later in the morning.  

For more information on the Flyers' tournament schedule and key dates ahead, click here.

Below is the Flyers' camp roster:

Forwards

Andy Andreoff, No. 10
Nicolas Aube-Kubel, No. 62    
Connor Bunnaman, No. 82     
Sean Couturier, No. 14
Joel Farabee, No. 49
Morgan Frost, No. 48
Claude Giroux, No. 28
Derek Grant, No. 38
Kevin Hayes, No. 13
Travis Konecny, No. 11
Scott Laughton, No. 21
Tyler Pitlick, No. 18
Michael Raffl, No. 12
Nate Thompson, No. 44
Carsen Twarynski, No. 81
James van Riemsdyk, No. 25  
German Rubtsov, No. 50
Jakub Voracek, No. 93   


Defensemen

Justin Braun, No. 61
Mark Friedman, No. 59    
Shayne Gostisbehere, No. 53
Robert Hagg, No. 8
Philippe Myers, No. 5
Matt Niskanen, No. 15
Nate Prosser, No. 39
Ivan Provorov, No. 9
Travis Sanheim, No. 6
Andy Welinski, No. 3
Tyler Wotherspoon, No. 26
Egor Zamula, No. 54


Goalies

Brian Elliott, No. 37
Carter Hart, No. 79
Alex Lyon, No. 34
Kirill Ustimenko, No. 67

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Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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