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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Flyers Talk podcast: Is this team convincing us in round robin of NHL playoffs?

Flyers Talk podcast: Is this team convincing us in round robin of NHL playoffs?

On the latest Flyers Talk podcast, NBC Sports Philadelphia's Brooke Destra and Jordan Hall discuss the team's climb in the round robin.

From the Flyers' best line to what's ahead, let's dive in:

1:00 — Exciting times for Flyers fans

5:55 — Who has been the most impressive on the second line?

11:55 — Something we've noticed with the Flyers' first-line production

16:05 — Has this two-game stretch convinced us if we weren’t convinced already?

22:10 — What did we think of James van Riemsdyk being scratched? Big deal or no?

27:50 — Speaking of lineups, would we keep the same D pairs vs. the Lightning?

 33:00 — What we like and dislike about the Lightning matchup

 40:00 — The matchup could do a ton for Carter Hart's confidence

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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.

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Jakub Voracek out, James van Riemsdyk back and more changes as Flyers aim to win round robin

Jakub Voracek out, James van Riemsdyk back and more changes as Flyers aim to win round robin

With the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed up for grabs Saturday, the Flyers' No. 1 line will look differently and the reason for why is unknown.

What we do know is Jakub Voracek will not play in the Flyers' round-robin finale against the Lightning at Scotiabank Arena.

"He's not available," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said Friday in a video interview, "that's all I can say for tomorrow."

As we learned during training camp when Voracek was absent from a scrimmage, there will be various levels of weirdness, uncertainty and inevitable speculation when a player is unavailable. Because of a mutual agreement between the NHL and NHLPA to respect an individual player's right to medical privacy during this time, clubs are not allowed to release specifications for any injuries/illnesses in the return-to-play 24-team tournament.

Naturally, time will tell about the severity of or length of time needed to return for Voracek's undisclosed absence.

Regardless, not having Voracek hurts the Flyers' chances to win the round robin. If the Flyers beat Tampa Bay, they'll secure the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed in the first round of the playoffs, which is slated to begin next Tuesday. If the Flyers lose to the Lightning, they'll settle for the No. 2 seed. The team has won its first two round-robin games by a combined score of 7-2 over the Bruins and Capitals.

Update: What Flyers fans need to know for round-robin finale, 1st-round matchups

When the Flyers started rolling in November of the regular season, Voracek was one of the club's best players. Since Nov. 1, the facilitating winger had 47 points (eight goals, 39 assists) and a plus-14 rating in 58 games. He finished the regular season with a team-best 44 helpers, 56 points and a plus-14 mark in 69 games.

"Jake's got a unique skill set, a veteran guy that's been around and has played in some big games," Matt Niskanen said Friday in a video interview. "We'll welcome him when he comes back. In the meantime, keep chugging forward with the guys we have."

The Flyers will chug forward with 20-year-old rookie winger Joel Farabee climbing to an exciting spot in the lineup. He'll play on the first line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, while James van Riemsdyk will return to the lineup after being interestingly scratched for the Flyers' 3-1 win Thursday over the Capitals. Connor Bunnaman, a 22-year-old forward who will likely be an extra come the first round if the Flyers are healthy, played in van Riemsdyk's place.

"It was less about benching James than looking at the big picture," Vigneault said. "Yes, James had been OK, just OK so far, after having in my estimation a real strong training camp. But I wanted to get Joel in, I also wanted to get Bunny in at some point, and I felt with the opposition, that it was the right time. Probably less to do with benching, more to do with the big picture."

The 31-year-old van Riemsdyk will join the third line. Vigneault is known to communicate with his players when they're taken out of the lineup or there's a notable change. The two-time 30-goal scorer wouldn't disclose the message between the player and coach, but van Riemsdyk was positive Friday, taking everything in stride.

“With those types of conversations, generally like to keep those in-house," van Riemsdyk said.

“For me, I look back at my career and playing in the playoffs and all these things, I’ve had success doing that in the past. My approach is going to stay the same and try to be the best player I can be and maximize every day. That’s always the way I approach things no matter what, I love the game. We have a great team and have a great shot this year, so my motivation and approach remains consistent day in and day out. No matter if you have a day that doesn’t go your way or if you have a day where things are going well, you go to the next day and you have to do it all over again.”

On the defensive side of things, Shayne Gostisbehere will draw into the lineup for Robert Hagg. Vigneault and his coaching staff had wanted to get Gostisbehere some action in the round robin. They trust the 27-year-old defenseman who could give a boost to the Flyers' power play, which is 0 for 8 through the round robin. Expect to see Hagg back with Justin Braun when the first round begins.

Here is the Flyers' lineup for Saturday's round-robin finale:

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Joel Farabee
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Travis Konecny
James van Riemsdyk-Derek Grant-Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Connor Bunnaman-Nate Thompson-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Philippe Myers
Shayne Gostisbehere-Justin Braun

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

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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.

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