Flyers

How much of Ron Hextall's work will Chuck Fletcher undo?

How much of Ron Hextall's work will Chuck Fletcher undo?

VOORHEES, N.J. — If he felt so inclined, Chuck Fletcher could walk in and rip out the carpet, repaint the walls and tear down the drapes. 

The Flyers' newest general manager has been given full autonomy by upper management to make the alterations that are more aligned with the organization’s style of winning hockey. 

At first glance, there doesn’t appear to be much that Fletcher wants to change. 

“The cupboard is full. There are a tremendous amount of prospects,” Fletcher said Wednesday at his introductory press conference. “This year, we have nine draft picks — we have an extra third and an extra seventh. We have cap space and we have good players. There’s everything here to be successful and that’s our goal and that’s what we’re going to do. It’s set up for success.”

Clearly, Ron Hextall left Fletcher in a much more tenable position in terms of cap space and prospects than Paul Holmgren left Hextall in 2014. But Fletcher will also be carrying out the wishes of upper management, who have expressed a desire to win this season, and not kick that can down the road to 2020, or whenever Hextall felt the time was conveniently right.

Expect Fletcher to be a hybrid of Holmgren and Hextall — the difference between a Wall Street day trader and a financial analyst who admires his 401(k) statements.  

“I’m a big believer in you need all three phases to build a championship team," Fletcher said. "Again, mainly the draft, but you also have to use trades and free agency. You have to have good people, everybody has to be pulling the same way. I do think culture is very important in any organization to be successful.”

If culture is important, then that would seemingly work into Wayne Simmonds' favor. 

One has to believe that Simmonds' future will be discussed thoroughly on the decision to reward him with a new contract or utilize him in a trade that could help mold the Flyers into a more well-rounded team defensively. 

However, what remains clear throughout Fletcher’s nine-year tenure in Minnesota is that his trades don’t look nearly as favorable as some of his free-agent signings.

“When the time is right, we will get to the contract,” Fletcher said. “But certainly there will be a lot of work starting right away in terms of getting to know the file, getting to know the individual, communicating with the agent, and who knows when there’s a fit. But we’ll keep pushing.”

Don’t expect the roster to be overhauled, but that’s only the start. 

Fletcher will also have to determine how much input he wants in just about every facet of the organization. It was Hextall who brought in a dietician to control what players ate. It was Hextall who created a sports science department to improve performance outcomes. And it was Hextall who started an analytics department to use advanced metrics in analyzing player data. 

“I think it’s all critical,” Fletcher said. “We had a pretty good analytics department in Minnesota that we were using more and more. And when I talk about process, that was part of the process. Maybe some areas I’ll tweak a little bit, just from personal preference. But there’s been a lot of thought into building this organization and it’s in a good place.”

All of which leads you to think the profound change Holmgren and Dave Scott were looking for was simply more inclusion from their general manager.  

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

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Gene Hart Memorial Award as the player with most 'heart'

Predictions for who wins Flyers' 2019-20 Gene Hart Memorial Award as the player with most 'heart'

Going End to End today are NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra, Katie Emmer, Taryn Hatcher and Jordan Hall.

The topic: Predicting who wins the Flyers' 2019-20 Gene Hart Memorial Award as the player with the most “heart.”

Destra

Looking back at the season, no one is more deserving of this award than Oskar Lindblom. 

When the news was given back in December that Lindblom had been diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, the whole NHL community was in shock. Through the news and the process since, the 23-year-old has continued to be a positive light for the organization and fans. 

Though his season on the ice was cut short, his impact remained just as important as the year progressed. The team went out and played for him every single night. Those moments when he was in Wells Fargo Center — whether the team knew, it was a surprise or even when he popped up on team picture day, he always made it better. 

Head coach Alain Vigneault says it best whenever Lindblom is mentioned, always commenting on his “beautiful smile.”

Emmer

The player to win the Gene Hart by the end of the season should be Sean Couturier.  

Couturier is so clutch for many reasons. We always talk about his strong 200-foot abilities and simply put— his marvelous abilities with the puck. On top of that all, he’s consistent.  

Couturier is always stepping up for this team and bringing heart to the game in times the team needs it most. Specifically, games following defeat. 

Couturier in games following a loss: 

26 games, 13 goals, 19 assists, 32 points, plus-13

Couturier is a game-changer and I think there’s something to say about how he’s been such a consistent key component for the Flyers. 

I completely believe Couturier deserves to be awarded the Gene Hart for the third consecutive season because of that passion he brings to the Flyers, and the sport of hockey in general. 

Hatcher

The Gene Hart Memorial Trophy has to go to Lindblom.

Lindblom is a phenomenal teammate according to every single person who plays alongside him, a guy who is tremendous to work with in every interaction I’ve had with him (and every other reporter who covers the team will say the same), and a player who was seemingly taking a massive step in his career this season before it was so unfairly cut short.

Despite Lindblom being forced to take a step back from the ice to battle Ewing’s sarcoma, he has become a key piece in the force that drives this team. This team has made it clear that it fights for him while he’s forced to fight for his health. 

I’d pull up stats for how the team has played on days when Lindblom has been at morning skate, or quotes on all the wonderful things the Flyers have said about what Lindblom means to them, but honestly this video of him surprising the team (and specifically Jakub Voracek’s reaction) says more than I could adequately say. 

Hall

It would be really cool to see Robert Hagg win this award.

The 25-year-old Swede is a low-key guy who does the unglamorous things and never aims for recognition. Instead, he plays with a huge heart and always puts his teammates first.

Hagg has found his niche on this 2019-20 team, all while dealing with the shocking news of his good friend Lindblom being diagnosed with cancer. He has pushed forward for Lindblom and the Flyers.

Hagg is a player that doesn't make the headlines. He deserves this one.

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 Flyers awards

The first week of Gritty's daytime mini show was simply incredible

The first week of Gritty's daytime mini show was simply incredible

Gritty has remained a constant form of entertainment all throughout the week, thanks to his new show, “Gritty’s Quarter Hour of Power!” 

The show is just like the name — every day this week, Gritty has hopped on Instagram Live to fulfill tasks and play games with the team’s in-arena host Andrea Helfrich and even a guest star or two. 

Since the streams are only available for 24 hours following the initial air date, I figured it would make sense to break everything down if you had missed any days. 

Let’s just say, this has certainly been one of the top highlights of the week. 

Let’s dive on in! 

Monday — the great game of Jenga

Gritty started off the week on a high note, playing a jumbo size game of Jenga by himself. Throughout the game, fans were getting shoutouts, squeaks from the favorite mascot and some quality entertainment. 

Even Scott Hartnell joined in on the fun and small talk with the mascot. Luckily, you can catch up on Day 1 right here


Tuesday — lunchtime 

It seems like everyone is cooking with all of the free time on their hands — even Bernie Parent is enjoying time in the kitchen making macaroni from scratch. 

Gritty on the other paw, decided to make a lunch classic — peanut butter and jelly. We learned a few things about Gritty in this video: 

-He is a grape jelly mascot
-He prefers the bread to be toasted
-The crust HAS to be cut off
-Grapes are the secret ingredient to his sandwich 

And boy was the concentration real in this video. I thought that one time Gritty had an axe was scary but after evaluating his pristine surgical skills on those grapes, I somehow feel more content. 

Wednesday — Pictionary

Next on the agenda was another classic game, good old charades. Gritty was acting everything out, while Helfrich and the fans that tuned in to watch, joined in on guessing what was on the cards. 

Gritty’s roommate, Kevin Hayes entered the chat — saying hi to his friend and taking a crack at a few guesses as well. 

This sparked the wonderful idea for Thursday’s episode. 

Thursday — The first guest star

For the first time of the week, Gritty had a new co-host — Hayes. Since this was Hayes’ first time on the show, his pal made sure he was well-prepared with what to say. Gritty held up cue cards so the former ref could welcome the fans to the show for the day. 

Funny enough, throughout this round of charades, Derek Grant and Carsen Twarynski joined in guessing in the comments — and a few troll comments here and there. 


We also found out that Hayes is a big fan of karaoke — but who’s surprised there? Maybe soon we’ll get another guest appearance with a karaoke session featuring Gritty playing the paws (get it? Since his paws squeak and he can’t talk? I think you get it). 

View this post on Instagram

The Best One yet featuring @kphayes12.

A post shared by Philadelphia Flyers (@philadelphiaflyers) on


Friday — Yoga (or a seance?) 

Now Friday … Friday was an odd one — mainly due to the fact Gritty spent the opening minutes with calm music playing in the complete dark. 

Eventually, we were able to see the mascot, thanks him lighting up a line of very small candles in front of him. Yes, in one week we have seen Gritty with a knife and fire. 

Luckily, since he didn’t go up in flames, we were able to witness a yoga session. According to Helfrich, Gritty does yoga all of the time so we were technically watching a pro … even though before the additional light of the lantern it looked like something straight out of a horror film. 

This entertaining daytime show will be back next week with new ideas and guests. One of the comments suggested Gritty painting Bob Ross style and now it just has to happen. My fingers are crossed.

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