Flyers

A timeline of the Flyers' massive shake-up with more to come

A timeline of the Flyers' massive shake-up with more to come

Did anyone envision this sort of drama 31 games into the Flyers' 2018-19 season?

It's Dec. 17 and the Flyers have already fired a general manager, assistant general manager, head coach and assistant coach, while naming a new GM, assistant GM, interim head coach and starting the search for a long-term bench boss. 

And that's not to mention this is a team with a blend of veterans and youth stuck in last place of the Metropolitan Division.

A lot has happened in the past three weeks, even 24 hours.

Let's break it all down:

Monday, Nov. 26 — Hextall's process cut short

This was the first shoe to drop as the Flyers stunned many by firing general manager Ron Hextall. 

The move was a massive shift in the organization's direction because it created a chain reaction of inevitable — and significant — changes to follow.

Flyers president Paul Holmgren and Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott wanted more progress and action in Year 5 under Hextall — and maybe a little more openness to ideas, as well.

Wednesday, Nov. 28 — Two more get the door

Just two days later, the Flyers fired assistant general manager Chris Pryor and assistant coach Gord Murphy. 

Pryor's axing wasn't a surprise after Hextall was let go, but it was quite notable given Pryor had spent the last 20 years in the organization and was integral to the team's renewed scouting efforts.

He was considered Hextall's right-hand man, while Murphy was on staff prior to Dave Hakstol's arrival. Ironically, as Hakstol's job was put in serious jeopardy with Hextall's firing, the head coach actually gained some pull, being consulted by Holmgren on the decision to relieve Murphy of his duties.

Monday, Dec. 3 — New sheriff in town

A different era of Flyers hockey begun when the team named Chuck Fletcher its new executive vice president and general manager a week after firing Hextall.

Scott was eyeing a candidate with a "bias for action" and the Flyers found their guy in Fletcher. Scott commended Fletcher for his "deep experience" and "easy, open management style, leadership style."

Fletcher came from outside the organization, an emphasis made by Holmgren, and with a track record of making things happen, specifically in his last stop as general manager of the Wild from 2009 to 2018 (see story).

With Fletcher's introduction, Hakstol and the Flyers were essentially put on the clock.

"I want it to work, I want to be successful with this group," Fletcher said Dec. 5. "It's not threats or anything, but if we don't have the solutions in-house, we'll look outside. There's no timetable for any of that, other than we're just trying to get better."

A day after Fletcher was named GM, Rick Wilson was brought on board as the new assistant coach, a North Dakota product and Hakstol guy.

Wednesday, Dec. 12 — Fletcher's sidekick

Brent Flahr, who oversaw scouting and the NHL draft with the Wild from 2010 to 2018, was reunited with Fletcher last week when named Flyers vice president and assistant general manager.

“He has a good eye for talent and Brent is very familiar with many of the Flyers' [scouts],” Fletcher said. "They’ve already been communicating and I think it will be a seamless transition, where there’s a lot of mutual respect. I think it will work very well with the guys that are currently on our staff.”

Monday, Dec. 17 — Hakstol era ends

A chaotic and confusing 24 hours commenced following a 1-3-1 road trip in which the Flyers allowed 22 goals over four straight losses.

A report came out Sunday that Hakstol was being fired but two team sources confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia that no decision had been made.

Eighteen hours later, the Flyers announced Hakstol had been fired and was being replaced by Scott Gordon on an interim basis.

A crazy three weeks — and really, it's just the beginning.

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Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

Shorthanded Flyers can't keep up with Avalanche to begin road trip

BOX SCORE

From the moment it was announced that Oskar Lindblom would miss Wednesday night's game, the Flyers' chances at Pepsi Center felt bleak.

No Lindblom, no Travis Konecny and facing the NHL's highest-scoring team in its building was not a promising script for the Flyers, who lost to the Avalanche, 3-1.

In stretches this season, the Flyers have struggled to bury goals. And that has been with Lindblom and Konecny — their two leading goal-scorers at 11 apiece — in the lineup.

The Flyers (17-9-5) did some good things but Colorado finished plays behind its world class talent up top.

The Avalanche (20-8-3) are on an eight-game point streak (7-0-1) in which they've scored 4.13 goals per game.

• Without Konecny (concussion) and Lindblom (upper body), the Flyers had difficulty putting the puck in the net. They were going to have to put up some goals against the Avalanche, who entered scoring an NHL-best 3.70 goals per game. For the second time in the last three games, the Flyers scored only one goal.

The lone tally came from Claude Giroux when the Flyers were trailing 3-0 with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

• Following a first period in which they survived, especially in the back half of it thanks to Carter Hart, the Flyers actually played a solid second period. At one point during the middle stanza, the Flyers were outshooting Colorado 11-0.

But as the Flyers kept pushing to no avail, the Avalanche changed the whole complexion of the period with one play by their two best weapons. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen hooked up for a nasty marker to make it 2-0 with 3:55 left in the period, a deflating goal to allow for the Flyers (see highlights).

Considering Colorado was 14-0-1 when leading after the middle period, the Flyers were in a serious hole, even after a hard-working period.

• Hart, who entered 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts, faced the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

He made a highlight-reel save and gave the Flyers a fighting chance in tough circumstances.

The 21-year-old has been impressive during the first period all season long, allowing the Flyers to find their legs and rhythm. He converted 12 of his 24 saves in the opening stanza against Colorado.

On the Avalanche's first-period goal, Scott Laughton won a defensive zone faceoff but the Flyers failed to clear the puck, resulting in Matt Calvert's tally.

Rantanen added his second goal early in the third period and that was pretty much the game.

Colorado goalie Pavel Francouz, who came in 5-0-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .926 save percentage over his last eight games (six starts), finished with 32 stops.

• When Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day) is ready to return, Robert Hagg should be the odd man out on defense. Shayne Gostisbehere has found some of his offensive mojo and Myers has shown way too much promise to be sitting when healthy.

A stay-at-home guy like Hagg was far too noticeable against the Avalanche. He committed a penalty and was a minus-2 in 15:21 minutes.

• David Kase was summoned to Denver this morning to make his NHL debut and become the ninth rookie to play for the Flyers this season

The 22-year-old winger had a nice scoring chance and two shots in 7:47 minutes. 

• The Flyers head to the old stomping grounds of general manager Chuck Fletcher and assistant general manager Brent Flahr when they visit the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Fletcher was the GM in Minnesota from 2009 to 2018 and Flahr was his AGM from 2010 to 2018.

The Flyers have not lost consecutive games in regulation since Oct. 27-29.

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Flyers at Avalanche: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Avalanche: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

As one of the NHL's best teams since Nov. 1 (12-3-4, 28 points), the Flyers now face a new challenge.

Alain Vigneault's undermanned group begins a three-game road trip Wednesday as the Flyers (17-8-5) visit the Avalanche (19-8-3).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Pepsi Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com

• The Flyers are without Travis Konecny (concussion, out indefinitely), Oskar Lindblom (upper body, out tonight), Philippe Myers (back spasms, day to day), Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger, out approximately four weeks) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder, out indefinitely).

"Injuries are a part of a season. You have to expect it," Vigneault said Monday. "Then you need somebody else to step up."

More than ever this season, the Flyers will be looking to Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes and James van Riemsdyk to produce among the forwards.

The Flyers are 10-2-1 when Hayes records a point and 9-1-0 when van Riemsdyk records a point.

• Not only are the Flyers severely shorthanded Wednesday night, but they're also facing the NHL's highest-scoring club. The Avalanche lead the league with 3.70 goals per game. Their top line of Nathan MacKinnon (47 points in 30 games), Mikko Rantanen (18 points in 14 games) and Gabriel Landeskog (nine points in 14 games) is scary.

"We know going into Colorado, we're going to have to be careful versus their top unit," Vigneault said Tuesday. "[Monday] night, they seemed to load up. That's one of the best lines in hockey."

• Carter Hart will face the Avalanche for the first time in his career.

The 21-year-old goalie is 8-2-2 with a 1.96 goals-against average and .928 save percentage over his last 12 starts.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
James van Riemsdyk-Morgan Frost-Tyler Pitlick
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
David Kase-Mikhail Vorobyev-Chris Stewart

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

 

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