Flyers

Was Ron Hextall's authoritarianism too much?

Was Ron Hextall's authoritarianism too much?

VOORHEES, N.J. — Executive vice president and general manager Ron Hextall was relieved of his duties Monday morning in a move that signaled a completely different direction within the Flyers organization. 

The move comes less than 48 hours after arguably the most embarrassing loss of the Hextall era, a 6-0 drubbing to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a game in which several players appeared to stop playing.

Team president Paul Holmgren issued a statement that read in part, “It has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team. In light of these differences, we feel it’s in the organization's best interests to make a change, effective immediately. I have already begun a process to identify and select our next general manager, which we hope to complete as soon as possible." 

Hextall replaced Holmgren as GM in May 2014 and immediately took over all decisions in the hockey operations department. His philosophical ideology to building a championship contender was in direct contrast to the way Holmgren constructed Flyers teams in the past by putting a premium on a win-now approach.

Much of the criticism surrounding Hextall’s authoritarian command was an unwillingness to listen to differing viewpoints and opinions. Hextall deviated from that position in some regard when he brought aboard his former boss in Los Angeles, Dean Lombardi, who was hired in September 2017 as a senior advisor to the GM.

No word if Holmgren is considering Lombardi, who led the Kings to two Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and 2014, as a replacement to Hextall.

With the removal of Hextall, who steadfastly stood by Dave Hakstol through three-plus seasons, there’s now a belief that the head coach is firmly on the hot seat and could be the next to be replaced within the organization. Hextall's decision to hire Hakstol to replace Craig Berube following the 2014-15 season raised eyebrows as he was the first collegiate coach since 1982 to make the jump to the NHL.

However, Hextall’s position to maintain organizational control also meant he didn’t want a head coach to challenge personnel decisions, which is a primary reason why Hextall wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to bring in three-time Stanley Cup champion Joel Quenneville, who the Chicago Blackhawks fired in early November following internal differences with upper management. 

There was also an internal feeling within the Flyers that Philadelphia had no longer become one of the more desirable free-agent destinations for marquee players such as John Tavares, who ultimately chose the Toronto Maple Leafs, even though Hextall expressed afterward that he had a strong desire to add Tavares, who apparently never met with Flyers management.

Once the Flyers secure a general manager, it remains to be seen how new management will view the organization’s current roster and a core that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup playoff series since 2012. 

The Flyers will have no additional statement until Comcast Spectacor Chairman and CEO Dave Scott addresses the media at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning.

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Why Flyers fans should be concerned about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

Why Flyers fans should be concerned about post-NHL All-Star break playoff chances

On Saturday, we broke down why Flyers fans should be hopeful for the post-All-Star break stretch. Today, we look at the reasons for concern.

Alain Vigneault has 11 playoff berths on his résumé. He knows the requisites for a postseason club and the Flyers have failed to look like one in a key aspect.

"As a team that considers themselves a playoff team, you need to have a good road record," Vigneault said last month.

The Flyers do not through 25 road games. As stingy as they have been at home, they've been the polar opposite away from home. On the road, the Flyers are 10-13-2, have a minus-30 goal differential and are allowing the NHL's second-most goals per game at 3.80.

The figures above are a major concern and the Flyers must stem the tide over their final 16 road games. Vigneault's team still has two trips to Washington, D.C., two to Tampa Bay, Florida, two to Madison Square Garden and one more to Pittsburgh. Those matchups with the Capitals, Lightning, Rangers and Penguins will be stiff tests.

Speaking of the schedule, the Flyers are battling in the NHL's deepest division and have 14 games remaining against Metro teams. The Flyers are in sixth place of the Metropolitan Division (three points out of third place) but would be in first place of the Pacific Division.

The Flyers will be challenged the rest of the way and so, too, will their depth at forward. The Flyers are a middle-of-the-pack scoring club (15th in the NHL with 3.06 goals per game) and without Oskar Lindblom (Ewing's sarcoma) and Nolan Patrick (migraine disorder).

Is the team's youth in the bottom six enough for the playoffs and a competitive shot? Or will (and can) general manager Chuck Fletcher add at the Feb. 24 trade deadline?

Big questions and we'll have answers soon.

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2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

2020 NHL All-Star Game: Flyers' Travis Konecny shows off his career-high stuff for Metropolitan Division

BOX SCORE

Travis Konecny stormed into the NHL All-Star break already with a new career high in assists. The Flyers' winger has 26 helpers and is projected to finish with 44, a sign of significant growth in a breakout 2019-20 season for the 22-year-old.

On Saturday night in the 2020 All-Star Game at Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Konecny put his facilitating on display during the 3-on-3 action featuring the world's best players. He finished with three assists in the Metropolitan Division's 9-5 semifinal loss to the Atlantic Division.

"I had a lot of fun," Konecny said Saturday, via Flyers senior director of public relations and communications Zack Hill. "It was pretty funny, I was watching my parents in the stands and my mom didn't understand why we weren't playing like a real game.

"It's my first game and it's her first time seeing it. I don't know if she was expecting me to be blocking shots and forechecking, stuff like that. I had a lot of fun with it.

"It was a really cool experience, getting to play with some players, too, that I usually won't get the chance to play with was fun."

Konecny playing in his first All-Star Game at 22 years old should be exciting for the Flyers. Claude Giroux was 23 years old for his first All-Star Game back in 2011. The future looks bright for Konecny, who signed a new six-year, $33 million contract back in mid-September.

With 17 goals and 43 points through 47 games, Konecny is eight goals and seven points away from setting career highs across the board.

A breakout, indeed.

Here are more sights and scenes from Konecny's first All-Star Game:

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