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 brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

BOX SCORE

Despite putting up 21 goals over their five-game winning streak, the Flyers had a propensity to score them in bunches when an opponent started derailing.

On Thursday night, the Flyers never got going and were pulled back to earth in a 3-1 loss to the Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was the biggest difference. The 6-foot-5 netminder who brought an NHL-best 1.97 goals-against average and .936 save percentage to Philly stopped 28 shots.

With 4:43 left, Matt Niskanen scored the Flyers' lone goal and it ricocheted off a Coyote. Arizona iced the game with an empty-netter (see highlights).

The Flyers (16-8-5) suffered just their second regulation loss at home (9-2-4). The last time they failed to pick up a point at home was Oct. 19 when they lost to the Stars, 4-1.

Thursday night's defeat halted the Flyers' winning streak at five games and their point streak at seven. The Flyers had earned at least a point in 18 of their previous 22 games.

The Coyotes (17-9-4), who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.31, improved to 10-3-3 on the road.

• The Flyers went on two power plays in the final six minutes of the second period but could not solve Kuemper.

During those two man advantage opportunities, the Flyers put five shots on Kuemper and also misfired three times.

James van Riemsdyk found Morgan Frost with a slick backhanded pass from behind the net but the 20-year-old missed wide.

• Speaking of Frost, he had a tough game. The rookie had a turnover and some difficulty making plays.

He has gone scoreless over his last seven games following his loud start in which he scored three points in his first two games.

Maybe head coach Alain Vigneault takes him off the first line to relieve some pressure.

"Young player, in my estimation, has got a lot of confidence in himself, which is real good," Vigneault said postgame. "Tonight, there were a couple of plays with the puck, like some of our other guys, that the execution might have been a little bit off. But I think overall, the young man is working hard and trying to get better."

Will he stay on the top line?

"I'm going to watch the game and make [changes], if I have some changes to make, [Friday]," Vigneault said. "I like what the young man can bring to the game."

• Vigneault opted to play seven defensemen instead of slotting call-up Mikhail Vorobyev in at fourth-line center.

It's not a bad approach when you have seven healthy blueliners playing well. It also could mean the Flyers aren't ready to trust Vorobyev on the fourth line again.

The Senators game on Saturday looks like a better matchup for Vorobyev, who is in his fifth stint with the club since the start of last season.

• Brian Elliott hadn't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. The Flyers' backup goalie finished with 15 saves.

He allowed a first-period power play goal to Phil Kessel after Claude Giroux was whistled for a ticky-tacky slashing penalty. He then yielded a backbreaking third-period goal to Conor Garland with 7:03 left in the game.

The goalie was not the problem, though.

Sean Couturier was not a problem, either.

• The Flyers wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday when they welcome the Senators (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Next week, the team opens a three-game road trip, which features matchups with the Avalanche on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

 

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'Tis the season for ... Jawnaments? Jawnaments!

'Tis the season for ... Jawnaments? Jawnaments!

If you live in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, it's safe to say there's at least one ornament on your tree representing the city — whether it be a memento from a previous championship Philly has seen, famous landmarks or even the skyline, you're repping one way or another.

Throw everything you thought you knew about Philly ornaments out the window and make way for Jawnaments ... yes, you read that correctly.

Jawnaments. I swear, there is no place like Philadelphia.

Jawnaments is an Etsy shop that has been around since 2017 but they recently released a ton of non-traditional Philadelphia-inspired ornaments. And they're a thing of beauty.

Can you only function throughout the week because of the daily coffee you grab at Wawa and want to highlight that on your tree this year? They've got you covered.

Haven't received a parking ticket in the city in a while and just miss the stress and anxiety they bring with them? Yup, they've got that covered too.

The Tastykake Krimpet and Kandy Kake ornaments look good enough to eat ... even a classic soft pretzel with yellow mustard is an option.

And since Gritty is just about everywhere in the world ... it he. On an ornament. Oh sorry, *Jawnament.

Trust me, there are a ton of other options but you're just going to have to check out the full shop to see the beauty of it all.

You might even have to get a mini tree that's dedicated to the city you know and love. Heck, keep it up all year!

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