Flyers

Ron Hextall firing is just 1st shoe to drop for Flyers, so what's next?

Ron Hextall firing is just 1st shoe to drop for Flyers, so what's next?

VOORHEES, N.J. — One shoe dropped Monday morning at Flyers Skate Zone.

And if things don’t change drastically in the next few games, that other shoe will drop with the force of a sledgehammer.

The conventional belief is that Ron Hextall wouldn’t fire the only coach he’s hired since he was elevated to general manager in May 2014, so the organization had no choice but to start at the top and work its way down.

The question moving forward is how far down will the Flyers cut to the core of their issues? Certainly, at this stage, there’s very little margin of error for head coach Dave Hakstol.

“That’s reality,” Hakstol said. "That’s the reality of the business we’re in. I’m not looking over my shoulder. I never have. I never do. I focus on the job at hand and going forward. Those are decisions that aren’t up to me.”

In a statement, Flyers president Paul Holmgren said he’s already begun the process to identify and select a new general manager as soon as possible. However, will Holmgren take it upon himself to make a necessary coaching change or allow the new GM to handpick a new coach? Another dismal effort similar to what the Flyers displayed in Toronto Saturday and Buffalo last Wednesday will certainly test management’s patience. 

Hakstol was asked Monday afternoon if complacency had set in after two back-to-back disgusting efforts on the road.

“Again, one of the most miserable results that you can imagine," Hakstol said. "Certainly, the most miserable result of the season for us. To answer your question, no. I haven’t seen that. Has our consistency and the passion that we’ve played with been at the level that it needs to be? No. We've all gotta really address that.” 

Hextall’s firing has understandably left the Flyers' dressing room wondering what’s next. Will the next general manager have a quick trigger and start dealing away players who don’t fit the style, personality and culture of a team that hasn’t won a playoff series since 2012, the longest such drought in franchise history?

“Anything can happen,” Jakub Voracek said. “Is he going to be fired? Is there going to be any trades? Like, I don’t know. It’s not really in my power. I have no no-trade clause. It can happen to anyone. What happens to Hexy can happen to me, can happen to every other guy. Obviously, it’s something that we've got to be aware of. It’s not under your control. You just go out there and do your best.”

Voracek is still Hextall’s biggest signing after inking an eight-year, $66 million deal in July 2015, a deal that runs through 2024. Outside of Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds, who has a modified no-trade clause where he can submit a list of 12 teams to block a proposed trade, no other player has a no-trade clause in their contract.

One of the first items of business for the new general manager will be determining the future of Simmonds, who sources say is seeking a six-year contract. Apparently, Hextall had reservations of going long term on a new deal, which is arguably the right move at this stage of Simmonds' career.

“It was a shock for me definitely,” Simmonds said. “I didn’t expect anything of this nature. Hockey is a business. I had no clue. In L.A., Dean Lombardi would be the good guy and Hexy would be the bad guy. They played that role. I was in Hexy’s office quite a bit. But I’m just here to play. I have to continue to improve as well. That’s my main focus here.”

One way or the other, expect changes. Hextall was gun shy to pull the trigger on a trade that might improve the team in the short term at the expense of sacrificing young talent, prospects or draft picks. 

Which is why Monday’s move to find a new general manager changes the entire complexion of who stays and who goes.

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Flyers mascot Gritty surprises patients at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Flyers mascot Gritty surprises patients at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Gritty and the Flyers' ice team brought smiles to the faces of patients on the oncology floor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

It was an awesome surprise Wednesday as the Flyers provided Love Your Melon hats and tickets to the team's Hockey Fights Cancer game on Nov. 25 against the Canucks.

Gritty and company took pictures, handed out gifts and, most importantly, gave the kids a fun day (which you can watch in the video above, with footage courtesy of the Flyers).

The Flyers truly do wonderful work in the community and so does the NHL with its Hockey Fights Cancer initiative.

(AP Images/Matt Slocum)

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Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss

Morgan Frost provides a highlight but Flyers are left looking for more answers following 4th straight loss

BOX SCORE

Morgan Frost offered a snapshot of what the Flyers hope is a prosperous future for the skillful playmaker.

The present on Tuesday night did not depict as pretty of a picture.

The Flyers fell behind 4-1 during the second period, Carter Hart was yanked and a 5-2 loss to the Panthers at BB&T Center marked the final result.

Frost gave the Flyers a highlight on a night that didn't feature many for Alain Vigneault's club. The 2017 first-round pick deposited a dazzling goal in his NHL debut but the Flyers (10-7-4) dropped their fourth straight game, a losing skid that has come directly after a season-best four-game winning streak.

The Panthers (11-5-5) can score goals with the best teams in the NHL. They were also allowing 3.55 per game, fourth worst in the league, but kept the Flyers at bay.

• Hart had been so good in November. When he's not on his game, the Flyers can be exposed, which is exactly what happened against Florida.

The 21-year-old goalie entered 4-1-1 with a 1.77 goals-against average and .934 save percentage this month. He wasn't good Tuesday, the Flyers didn't help him and things unraveled.

The first period set the tone when the Panthers' first goal went off Andy Andreoff's stick. Then Hart allowed Brett Connolly to score from a crazy angle off the netminder's back.

Hart had allowed only one first-period goal over his previous five starts. Florida got him twice in the opening frame and ended his night midway through the second period with its fourth goal.

• The Flyers have now allowed more goals (61) than they've scored (60). During the four-game losing streak, they've scored 1.75 goals per game.

Vigneault continues to plead for more from his veterans. They simply have not answered his call and the Flyers are more than a quarter way into the season. The Flyers' record is very indicative of what they've received from their big boys.

Kevin Hayes recorded his first point in 10 games with a first-period assist on Travis Sanheim's goal. He played 19:01 minutes, four-plus at shorthanded. James van Riemsdyk went scoreless and played 12:56, his second-lowest ice time of the season. Jakub Voracek went scoreless, as well, in 15:31 minutes.

That trio has combined for 30 points in 21 games. The Flyers have to find a way to spark those three, along with Claude Giroux.

• Frost was a nice positive. He played with pace, he was active and was consistently a threat. His goal was very Frost-like.

Expect Vigneault to give him another game with Giroux and Travis Konecny.

• Joel Farabee made a costly turnover that led to Aleksander Barkov's second-period goal, which put the Flyers in a 3-1 hole. The Flyers were also slow to get back on the play. Bad all the way around (see highlights).

The 19-year-old was a minus-2 with three giveaways. He's a kid and there will be growing pains. Farabee snapped his stick in frustration when he went to the bench. Now it's a matter of seeing if he can play his way out of some struggles.

• Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen were a combined minus-5. Shayne Gostisbehere played only 14:33. While the Panthers pounced on mistakes, the Flyers couldn't fend them off or get much going at 5-on-5.

The Flyers went 0 for 2 on the power play.

• The Flyers stay on the road and visit the Hurricanes Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

 

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