Flyers

Flyers let down Ron Hextall just as much as he did them

Flyers let down Ron Hextall just as much as he did them

It's wild how crazily and quickly it can all change.

When Ron Hextall was given the reins to the Flyers in May 2014, he started working his magic, implementing his own master plan of building up the organization. 

The vision — pristine and precise — seemed too good to be true. Hextall wanted to be competitive in the present while putting a laser-sharp focus on the future. He wasn't fond of the word "rebuild" because the competitiveness that ran through the Flyers' veins would never succumb to defeat.

Make no mistake, though, Hextall shifted the organizational philosophy.

These were the new Flyers.

As Hextall began reviving the franchise from a futureless entombment, the general manager looked infallible. With each move — all of them meaningful in the grand scheme — fans would have bowed at his feet if they had the chance. 

Here was a beloved franchise figure giving the Flyers the best of both worlds in his managerial motives.

If only the worlds came together.

Players and the handpicked coach felt accountable for Hextall's fate as the GM's process ended Monday with his firing.

And they should.

"I feel a responsibility for what happened today," Dave Hakstol said.

"Any time a coach or GM gets fired," Claude Giroux said, "obviously as players you feel responsible. If we win games, that doesn't happen."

The attempt to blend the future with the present in perfect harmony was let down not just by Hextall, but also the players and coaches in which he gave the opportunity to drive things forward.

Hextall kept the core intact and trusted the group by supplementing it with talented youth. Over time, he tirelessly created financial flexibility and restocked the farm system. When you look at the groundwork, it's impressive.

Consider some of these key moments:

• Trading 39-year-old Kimmo Timonen to the Blackhawks for draft picks in 2015.

• Shedding Chris Pronger's cap hit in a 2015 trade with the Coyotes.

• Sending 30-year-old Braydon Coburn to the Lightning in 2015 for draft picks and Radko Gudas.

• Trading Vinny Lecavalier and his big contract to the Kings in 2016. 

• Accumulating draft picks in a number of these deals and others to replenish the prospect pool.

• Drafting and developing with selections such as Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov, Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim, Oskar Lindblom, Carter Hart, German Rubtsov, Morgan Frost, Joel Farabee and Jay O'Brien, to name a handful.

"As I said when I took the job, we want to win the Stanley Cup," Hextall said in April 2016. "We don't just want to make the playoffs, we want to win the Stanley Cup. And to do that, you've got to build for years to give yourself multiple shots."

Not go for the gusto just once, but multiple times — a mindset Flyers fans certainly got on board with as they craved a perennial Cup contender.

Hextall was meticulous and to a fault. Near the end, faith felt lost in the GM as inaction, across the board, seemed to turn off even some of his most devoted supporters.

The clock truly defeated Hextall's process.

And he shouldn't be the only one to blame for that.

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Flyers vs. Golden Knights: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Golden Knights: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

It's Joel Farabee time.

The prospect everyone wants to see will make his NHL debut Monday night when the Flyers (2-3-1) host the Golden Knights (6-3-0).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 7 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• The Flyers have been pleased with their work at both ends of the ice (see story). Alain Vigneault's team has put up the NHL's third-most shots per game with 36.2 while allowing the league's fewest per game at 26.

But the Flyers, with 15 goals through six games, need somebody to make a play. That's why Farabee and Mikhail Vorobyev were called up Sunday night (see story).

"In Misha’s case, we’ve been looking for a guy to play that fourth-line center spot that would give us a little bit more balance," Vigneault said Monday after morning skate, "while Joel has got a tremendous amount of skill and he’s also a very smart hockey player."

Farabee can deliver goals on pure skill and understands how to score in a variety of ways. He was dynamic with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, netting three goals and an assist in four games.

Can he be the Flyers' spark plug?

"I definitely feel a lot more comfortable," Farabee said. "Stickhandling in tight and stuff like, I feel a lot more comfortable. I’m not afraid to try certain plays, I’ve got more confidence. Going down there definitely helped a lot and I’m sure it will help me tonight."

• Farabee will play on the first power play unit and why not?

"If we’re going to call up a young player like that, with that amount of skill, we’re going to put him in a position and in a role where he can have success," Vigneault said.

“He’s an offensive, gifted player that plays smart at both ends of the rink.”

Shayne Gostisbehere will be back running the point of the man advantage after Ivan Provorov did so in Saturday's 4-1 loss to the Stars. Gostisbehere is scoreless through the first six games of the season for the first time in his career.

• The Flyers are looking to snap a four-game losing streak. They haven't lost five straight games in October since the 2008-09 season, when the Flyers dropped their opening six games.

• The Golden Knights' penalty kill is 33 for 35 with an NHL-best 94.3 percentage.

Quotable

Last two games, I know we didn't have the result we wanted, we lost both games, but if you really look into the game, if you understand the game, you understand that we played great games.

- Claude Giroux after the Flyers outshot the opposition 91-38 but lost by a combined score of 10-4 in the past two games

Projected lineup

Forwards

James van Riemsdyk-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
Michael Raffl-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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    What to make of Flyers' roster moves, which have Joel Farabee on his way

    What to make of Flyers' roster moves, which have Joel Farabee on his way

    The Flyers challenged Joel Farabee.

    The 19-year-old needed only four games to answer that challenge.

    “It won't be long in the American League if he does start there,” USNTDP coach John Wroblewski said in March.

    Farabee is on his way to the big club as the Flyers called up the 2018 first-round pick Sunday night, along with Mikhail Vorobyev. As a result, the Flyers sent rookie Carsen Twarynski to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

    Twarynski handled himself well over six games in a bottom-six role and this isn’t a demotion for the 21-year-old.

    This is about the Flyers needing an early offensive jolt after losing four straight games. The Flyers outshot the opposition 91-38 over the past two games but were outscored by a combined 10-4 in consecutive regulation losses.

    “At the end of the day right now, we’re having a challenging time as a group finding the back of the net,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday night.

    Here comes Farabee, a point-producing winger who is a versatile goal-scorer that can play in a variety of roles. After somewhat surprisingly not cracking the Flyers’ season-opening roster, Farabee went to the Phantoms oozing with motivation.

    He ripped off three goals in his first three games as a pro and added an assist Saturday night.

    That was enough to tell general manager Chuck Fletcher the time was now for his call-up, especially with the Flyers having a difficult time putting the puck in the net and lacking some offensive depth.

    “I had a good talk with Joel up in Europe about if he goes to Lehigh Valley with the right mindset, the right work ethic, the willingness to get better and get his game to where it needs to be, there's no doubt in my mind that at some point, if he plays well there, we'll probably see him back here,” Vigneault said Oct. 8.

    Farabee will make his NHL debut Monday against the Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m./NBCSP). Expect to see Vorobyev in the lineup, as well. The 22-year-old also brings an element of skill and playmaking. The center can play on the penalty kill and totaled two goals and two assists in five games with Lehigh Valley.

    Farabee has proven to be a quick starter and riser. During his draft year with the U.S. under-18 team, he put up four goals and two assists in his opening three games. As a freshman with Boston University last season, Farabee had three goals and three assists through his first eight games.

    Let’s see how quickly he can impact the Flyers.

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