Flyers

Firing Ron Hextall wasn't about Dave Hakstol, but instead what the GM didn't quite get

Firing Ron Hextall wasn't about Dave Hakstol, but instead what the GM didn't quite get

Ed Snider was a go-for-it guy, known for his immense competitiveness and passion.

The Flyers were always going for it under Snider — and fans loved it.

Paul Holmgren has always shared that vision. If something was broke, you fix it. Show the Flyers are going for it — take action. 

By doing so, the fans were happy and their voices were heard. They supported the team and bought tickets because, well, the Flyers met their demands.

Ultimately, fans drive this whole thing.

So we can think of all the theories for why general manager Ron Hextall was fired Monday morning.

But this wasn't as much about Dave Hakstol or the coaching staff. 

It wasn't about the players assembled or Hextall's past moves.

This came down to the moves Hextall never made, damning inaction that cost him his whole process.

Statements released by teams regarding major decisions typically provide fluff and no substance. However, a part of Holmgren's was forthright and telling about his decision on Hextall.

It has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team. In light of these differences, we feel it's in the organization's best interests to make a change, effective immediately. 

Change.

A fitting term on a day that could have been avoided if change was previously made.

Hextall became a bit too obsessed with the long game. At times, the present was blinded by his patience, a judicious approach that appeared to disregard what was unfolding in the now, in front of everyone's eyes.

That prudence probably soured on Holmgren. Because you can bet Holmgren and Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott had a keen finger on the pulse of the fans during Hextall's run.

That's their job. This is a business and the fans are your prized investors.

The fans grew increasingly impatient with the GM's patience.

This season, the fifth under Hextall's watch, the Flyers were in last place of the Metropolitan Division at Thanksgiving for a second straight year. In many ways, they regressed, going from 21 points to 20 and a minus-2 goal differential to minus-11.

Currently, the Flyers have broken down in net and own an NHL-worst .880 save percentage. They've allowed the third-most goals per game at 3.57. Their power play is ranked 25th (15.7 percent) and the penalty kill 30th (69.7 percent).

These were problematic areas that went unaddressed in the offseason and remained untouched to date. No change, just trust within and push forward.

Some would call that patience and loyalty, others would deem it ignorance and unfit to run the general manager duties.

At the conclusion of last season, Hextall discussed pressure and its impact on his decision-making.

"We all have pressure," Hextall said in April. "Pro sports is pressure. There's pressure on all of us. Now how you handle that pressure, you better handle it right. My philosophy is I do what I believe is right.

"I'm not going to do something to make me popular. I'm not going to do something that's going to take away from the success of our team to put a few more people in the stands."

Hextall didn't feel the heat. He should have — it could have made a difference in a process that never quite went for it.

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

More on the Flyers

Gritty the Maple Leafs' mascot? This parody account has gone too far

Gritty the Maple Leafs' mascot? This parody account has gone too far

How does one even begin to explain how they're feeling after *this*? 

It seemed like another business as usual day in the good ole’ NHL bubble on Tuesday. Six games between Edmonton and Toronto seemed like the perfect recipe for a grand time … right? 

Well, moments following the Leafs win against the Blue Jackets, something came across my Twitter feed that shook me to my core. I sat in disbelief, unsure what to make of this cursed image in front of me. 

It was a blue Gritty — on an account called @/LeafsGrittyNHL. 

I’m sorry … what? 

As President of the Gritty Committee, this is an outrage. Everyone knows the mascot belongs to the Flyers and while this is clearly a joke — some jokes just aren’t funny. 

Seriously, take a look … it just feels wrong. 

This mystery account even tweaked Gritty’s precious billboard he made for the Flyers in the bubble. 

If the Leafs want a blue mascot so badly, go get Cookie Monster. Gritty is taken. And I’m sure Carlton the Bear — the Leafs’ actual mascot — won’t be too happy about this either. 

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

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.

More on the Flyers

The Flyers were never on a hot streak — they're just that good

The Flyers were never on a hot streak — they're just that good

Four and a half months without playing hockey is quite a significant stretch of time. 

Even though that could be the length of a typical offseason, players still have the ability to train and stay as ready as possible for the following year. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many were not able to even skate for the majority of the pause following the announcement of the NHL's hiatus to keep up with social distancing guidelines. 

This raised a lot of concern for when play would ultimately resume — conditioning, chemistry and the ability to pick up right where things left off

Just a few weeks into the pause, it was clear those were concerns for players as well. 

“I think our team had come together in a great way and we were really playing for one another and everyone was buying into the system that A.V. put together,” Kevin Hayes said in early April. “And now there’s a possibility that we’ll never see the outcome of that … I assume that we’re going to be this good all the time, but who knows if we’re going to have this feeling again.” 

Looking back to right before the pause, the Flyers were the talk of the NHL. They won nine out of their last 10 regular season games, had the duo of Carter Hart and Brian Elliott making them a threat at home and on the road and it was clear that the team’s chemistry was unmatched. 

Luckily, Hayes and the Flyers will be able to see the outcome of the work they put in, but would they be that good again? Would that feeling of being on top return once play resumed? 

If you watched the Flyers’ exhibition against the Penguins or their first round robin game against the Bruins and wondered how the team stayed hot during all that time — you must not have been paying attention. 

Since the calendar year turned, this team was more than a feeling, they were more than a hot streak — they were the hottest team in the NHL. 

And yes, there is a big difference. 

There’s a reason they’re one of the top teams in the east, there’s a reason they were able to pick up right where they left off after the hiatus. It’s time to start acknowledging the Flyers for what they are — and that’s a legitimate contender — now more than ever.

Before anyone truly knew how long the wait before playoff hockey would be tangible, if at all in 2020, the Flyers looked like a well-oiled machine. 

Through the span of the last 25 games of the season, the Flyers never lost consecutively. They evaluated poor outings and came out swinging the next night. One of the best examples falls back to Feb. 6-8 when the Flyers were set to play the Devils and then Capitals. 

The Devils finished their season 28-29-12 from a grand total of 68 points. They had more games played (69) than points themselves. This should have been an easy win for the Flyers, but instead, they were shutout 5-0 on home ice. It was probably one of the ugliest losses of the season — and the players knew it. 

After an embarrassing loss to the worst team in the Metropolitan division, it was time to face the first-place Capitals. It was an opportunity to right the ship and make a statement that the previous game was not the identity of this team. And boy, it looked like they were on a mission. 

Not only did they take down Washington in their home barn, but steamrolled over them. The Flyers pulled out a 7-2 victory, Claude Giroux earned his 800th career point and they were able to silence Mr. Great Eight himself, Alexander Ovechkin, while he was on the hunt for his 700th career goal. 

The Flyers endured absurd travel at the start of the season, the always brutal midseason west coast road tip and injuries popping up at the most difficult of times — and all while competing in the tightest division in the league? That’s no small feat. 

Because of their hard work throughout the season, Travis Konecny earned his first All-Star appearance, Alain Vigneault is a Jack Adams finalist and Sean Couturier a Selke finalist. Giroux earned quite the career milestone in points, along with Jakub Voracek, who earned his 200th career goal. Hart boasted an impressive home record of 20-3-2 and won nine of 11 starts following the All-Star break. Ivan Provorov ranked 8th overall in defenseman with average time on ice with 24:51 and played his 300th career game in just four seasons. They overcame the news in December when it was announced their teammate and friend Oskar Lindblom had been diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. It has been a season like no other. 

It’s not a fluke. The Flyers aren’t hot — they are on fire.

With the additions made in the offseason of Kevin Hayes, Matt Niskanen, Tyler Pitlick and others, the Flyers went from a roster with a few strong players to one of the most complete teams this franchise has seen in the past decade. Rookies Joel Farabee and Nicolas Aube-Kubel found their home with the big club in no time and only solidified things further. 

Whether it’s the top line or the fourth line, you never know who’s going to step up and take control of that game. It’s great for the Flyers and absolutely terrifying for any opposing teams. 

So, instead of looking at the opposing team and wondering what they did wrong — why not look at the Flyers and see what they’ve done right?

If you’ve paid attention from the start of the season, this should be no surprise. 

The rest of the NHL better look out — this team isn’t going anywhere but up for the foreseeable future. 

Subscribe and rate Flyers Talk: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | YouTube

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.

More on the Flyers