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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