Ron Hextall: Dave Hakstol's 'our coach and he's going to remain our coach'

Ron Hextall: Dave Hakstol's 'our coach and he's going to remain our coach'

Throughout the Flyers' lifeless 3-1 loss Tuesday night to the San Jose Sharks — their ninth straight defeat — there were audible chants filling the Wells Fargo Center.

Flyers fans made it clear: They had enough of third-year head coach Dave Hakstol.

Fans chanted, "Fire Hakstol." On Twitter, #FireHakstol was the No. 3 trend in Philadelphia.

After the loss, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall stood in the locker room and said the Flyers "are not playing poorly." He said all the things he had to say as the GM — even if it didn't please the fanbase or the media.

And on Wednesday afternoon, in an interview on NBC Sports Philadelphia's Philly Sports Talk, Hextall not only doubled down on that thought process but also threw cold water on any indication that Hakstol's job is in danger.

"He's the guy," Hextall said. "Dave Hakstol is our coach and he's going to remain our coach."

Here are some of the highlights of the interview in Q&A form.

Q: How would you assess Hakstol's job?

A: "Hak, first of all, is a very good coach. He's as hard a working person as I've ever seen in the game. His staff works hard. Hak, if you look at our young players — (Ivan) Provorov, (Travis) Konecny, Taylor Leier, Scott Laughton. Nolan Patrick's getting his feet wet.

"Hak's done a good job with those young kids. There have been lessons to learn along the way. Shayne Gostisbehere — throw him in there. There've been lessons to learn along the way and there always is with young players.

"So, whether they get a couple minutes taken away, Hak does a lot of things behind the scenes for young players, older players that help them improve not only short term but also long term. You get a 19-year-old kid in your line. You have a lot of work to do as a human being.

"I remember myself, as a 19-year-old or, again, some of the kids we have coming up. These are really young people and they've got a lot to learn about being a pro. When you put a 19-year-old in your lineup like Provy last year, Konecny last year, Nolan this year, there's a lot for those kids to learn. Hak's done a good job with these guys.

"Have they stumbled a little bit? Of course, they have. They're young people, they're young players but they're getting better every day."

Q: What are the positives you've seen during the nine-game losing streak?

A: "A nine-game winless streak isn't acceptable probably in most franchises but certainly not in this franchise. Let's start off with that. My job, and the coaches' job to some degree, too, is to evaluate how well we're playing, not just the results.

"If I didn't know the results of the last nine games, I wouldn't have an issue with the way we're playing because I would probably guess we're 5-4 or somewhere in there, which isn't great but we'd still be in a pretty good spot.

"So our evaluations aren't how well our team plays. If we were playing to an 0-9 level right now, that's different than being 0-9 and playing better than that. Again, we're not happy with what's going on. Our players are going through a lot right now. Our coaches are going through a lot, management's going through a lot.

"Obviously, our fanbase is going through a lot. It's a tough time for everyone involved, and we're going to rectify it. We're going to find a way to battle through this. No one is jumping ship and I think you just asked me the positive, I would say this.

"Our players haven't started pointing fingers. Our players have stuck together and trust me, I've been in some locker rooms where you go 0-9, guys start to blame other people and get frustrated, and our guys have stuck together and that's a credit to them."

Q: You can have a winless streak and come back. Last season, you had a 10-game winning streak …

A: "That's a great analogy, too, because our 10-game win streak, we probably could have lost three or four of those games. But everybody's excited, we win 10 games, as we were. The results were there. Were we playing to a 10-game winning streak? 

"Trust me, I don't just look at this and go, 0-9, we're playing better. I looked at it back then, 10-0 and we're not playing 10-0. You do have to keep a balance, a realistic view of your club. Again, a positive of our guys sticking together, the positives — the kids. Our kids have played pretty well.

"Andrew MacDonald out, Radko Gudas out, [the kids are] probably playing more minutes than they should play, a little higher in the lineup than they should play and they've done a pretty good job. Last year, obviously, [Provorov and Konecny] come in and do a good job. And this year, the kids that we have in our lineup currently.

"(Danick) Martel has been in our lineup, (Samuel) Morin has been in our lineup. I think I looked a few days ago with Gudy and Mac out, our defense corp — 20, 21, two 22-year-olds and a 24-year-old. Five of our six, I don't know if I've ever seen that before.

"I know Carolina's defense is pretty young this year, but that's a young defense and for them to hold their own, [it's] a good sign. That's part of the future moving forward.

"We're in the present right now. We're trying to win hockey games. We're not going to dwell that we have a young defense. We need to win hockey games."

Q: When will the Flyers transition into being a winner?

A: "Well, you know what, I've always said, 'Talk is cheap.' It does take time. I think if you look at Chicago and L.A. and do the timeline when they built it, it takes time.

"In saying that, we can be competitive right now. The first eight games, everybody was excited. I thought it was a little bit of an overreaction. It's a small sample size. We did play well. Our record was good — could have even been better.

"I think we gave one game away there. Right now, again, we're not as bad as 0-9, which, thank goodness for that. And we need to find a way to win. Three of four games, we've found ways to lose — critical mistake at a critical time, we have to knock those off."

Q: Do you still think it's a playoff team?

A: "I think we're six points out. Now, six points are more than you think, don't get me wrong, because you have to catch up to the team in the eight spot or the wild-card spot, plus you've got to jump the teams over. We have our work cut out for us.

"We understand that, but two years ago, we did it, I think, in the last 20 or 30 games. We have a lot of hockey left and we've got to start playing the way we're capable of playing."

Q: The Sixers are now through the hard part of their rebuild. Do you have a timetable for being a Stanley Cup contender?

A: "Basketball's a little different because we've got 20 players on the ice every night, or 19 with the backup goalie. It's a little different building a hockey team than a basketball team, so you certainly can't follow that timeline.

"But again, I think I looked after 20 games, we were the same we've been the last four years in terms of points after 20 games. But I believe we were the 28th oldest in the league and we're now around seventh youngest in the league.

"As much as right now — things aren't real positive — we don't feel real positive about things right now, the way they've gone recently. There are some positives and again, we're a competitive team.

"We're a young team, we have a lot of young kids coming and we're going to get better. We're going to play better than we're currently playing."

Q: So a couple of years?

A: "I'm not … talk's cheap. Talk's cheap, right? We're going to get better every year. We're going to get younger every year and we're going to be competitive and we're going to get there."

Q: Can you give us some insight on Wayne Simmonds' struggles?

A: "Simmer's history is a little bit of a streaky player. He'll score a bunch of goals and then he'll go quiet for a few games and then he'll score a bunch of goals again, so that part doesn't surprise me that much. And at the start of this — I think he went 14 games without a goal — but at the start of that, he was pretty banged up.

"He had three things going on with his body and to his credit, he played through it. People don't see that and he's not producing, so all of a sudden, he plays a few games banged up and all of a sudden, he gets healthy but he's not feeling great because he got banged up. Now, he's not scoring so it just snowballs a little bit. The last guy we're worried about right now is Wayne Simmonds."

Q: Has Brian Elliott performed up to your expectations?

A: "Brian's met our expectations. He's a good goalie. He's been around a long time. I think one of the things we liked about him is, he played in a tandem and when we've asked him to play, he's done a real good job for us.

"He's a very competitive guy. He works hard every day. Teammates like to play for him because he works hard every day, competes hard for screened shots and rebounds and tips. He's done a good job for us. Certainly held up his end of the bargain."

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers. 

Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

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Flyers' Danick Martel accepts qualifying offer; team re-signs Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne

Updated: 9:44 p.m.

Three young forwards will all be staying in the Flyers organization, at least for one more year.

Sunday, the team announced that Danick Martel accepted his qualifying offer on a one-year contract, and that restricted free agents Taylor Leier and Tyrell Goulbourne signed one-year deals.

Restricted free agent goalie Anthony Stolarz has also accepted his qualifying offer of $761,250, according to a report from John Hoven. Stolarz, 24, played in just one game for the Phantoms in the 2017-18 season after undergoing surgery on a meniscus tear last summer. A second-round pick by the Flyers in the 2012 draft, Stolarz went 18-9 and posted a 2.92 goals against average with Lehigh Valley in 2016-17.

Though the team didn't include any salary details, Martel's deal is reportedly a two-way contract worth $715,000.

The 23-year-old Martel made his NHL debut last season, finishing with no points and six shots over four games. He scored a career-best 25 goals for Lehigh Valley.

With Leier, the Flyers avoided a possible arbitration hearing. According to CapFriendly, Leier's contract is a one-way deal for $720,000. Leier's hearing was scheduled for Aug. 3. The team also earlier avoided a hearing with Alex Lyon, their other player who filed for arbitration, signing the goalie to a two-year deal.

A fourth-round selection in 2012, Leier had one goal and four assists in 39 regular-season games with the Flyers as a rookie.

Goulbourne, who made his NHL debut on Jan. 6, appeared in nine regular-season contests, with 15 hits.

If Stolarz is indeed back in the fold, Robert Hagg would be the team's only remaining restricted free agent. 

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