It's audition time.
Dave Hakstol better ace it.
He'll have a new boss in town — and soon. Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said Tuesday the Flyers' goal for hiring a general manager is on a timeline of "weeks, not months."
"We want to get the right fit," Scott said, "but it's a full-court press."
No matter how much Scott and team president Paul Holmgren like Hakstol, the head coach was Ron Hextall's guy. Hextall is no longer here because of a decision by the two men sitting at a press conference table in the Wells Fargo Center, explaining why the former GM wasn't going to be their guy to take the Flyers to the next level.
Their decision-making for personnel will stop there, though. The second their desired fresh outlook graces the GM chair, Holmgren and Scott won't dictate the direction.
Holmgren was brutally honest about Hakstol's future, which was already cloudy the moment Monday's decision came down on Hextall.
Tuesday pushed Hakstol's fate directly into the air.
"I think we all like Hak. He's a likable guy. I think he's an intense guy who works hard at his job," Holmgren said. "I hate to keep kicking the can down the road, but that's what I'm going to do. That's up to the next GM. I'd hate to say it, Dave Hakstol's fate is in the next GM's hands, but it is. I'm not going to make that decision. That's the next GM's job."
"All I could offer for Dave [Monday] was my support and I said if there's anything I can do to help you do your job better, please feel free to come and talk to me about it."
So Hakstol has a whole new battle in front of him. This season was already one loaded with expectations for the head coach in his first NHL gig. Pressure was on just about everybody coming into 2018-19 as it marked the fifth season under Hextall and the fourth under Hakstol.
Deep down, Holmgren and Scott wanted more progress to date. In fact, the Flyers' lack of progress — even regression — through the first 23 games is a significant reason Hextall lost his job.
The Flyers (10-11-2) entered Tuesday at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, with a dead-last penalty kill (69.7 percent), 25th-ranked power play (15.7 percent) and allowing the NHL's third-most goals per game (3.57).
Last season, the Flyers squeaked into the playoffs for the second time in three years with Hakstol at the helm and were once again outclassed in the first round.
For Hakstol, who knows how much time he'll have. It's not up to Hextall anymore. It's not even in the hands of Holmgren or Scott.
"I'm not looking over my shoulder — I never have, I never do," Hakstol said Monday. "I focus on the job at hand and going forward. So those are decisions that aren't up to me."
This season isn't just about wins, losses and the next game on the schedule.
Saving his job is also on the agenda, if not at the top of it.
If Hakstol can suddenly stem the tide, turn this thing around and win over a complete outsider, it would be his biggest victory yet.
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