Flyers

Ron Hextall explains decision to fire Craig Berube

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Ron Hextall explains decision to fire Craig Berube

The Flyers fired head coach Craig Berube on Friday, ending the coach's tenure after two seasons.

GM Ron Hextall spoke to reporters in a conference call in the aftermath of the decision, addressing the reasoning behind Berube's firing and the search for a new head coach.

The full Q&A is below:

When did you make the decision and when did you inform Craig?

I made the decision last night and I met with Craig this morning and informed him of the decision.

What changed in the last couple of days?

Well, nothing changed. It’s just a process that I went through. I wanted to make the right decision. Once I kind of put all the facts together, and in the end you go with your gut, and I came up with the decision last night.

What went into the decision?

In a nutshell, in the end I didn’t feel like he got enough out of our group collectively.

Are the assistants still in place?

I’ve talked to two of the three assistant coaches and I left the other one a voice mail. Once we get a head coach in place, he’ll meet with the coaches, he and I will discuss it and we’ll go from there. So they all kind of know their status, and we’ll move forward once we get a head coach in place.

What are you looking for in a new head coach?

I haven’t thought it through. Obviously you’ve got ideas, but in the end, we’ll do our homework in the next couple weeks and see who the candidates are, and start the interview process and go from there. In the end, you’re looking for the coach that fits your team, obviously [that] thinks the same way to some degree. In the end we’re looking for the guy who can take this group to another level not only short term, but long term.

How much have you looked at that?

I haven’t looked at it. The end of the season is a real busy time for us. We’re trying to assess every part of the hockey ops operation. I have not had time to delve into that. Obviously it’ll move up on the priority list now and I’ll start looking at potential coaches. But I have not had any yet, and I don’t think I will in the next couple days.

Is it difficult to isolate this decision in a vacuum?

You really have to decide, is the coach is the right coach for your team now. If the answer to that is no, you need to move on. I’m not going to hedge my bet here and say OK, I see a great coach that I can put in play, so I’m going to make this move. If you don’t think it’s the right head coach you’ve got to move on, and that’s what we did here. Again, as we get into the summer here and we start to do our research here, we’ll come up with the guy that we feel is the right guy.

What was your conversation like with Ed Snider?

Any conversation I had with people, I’ll keep that as inside information. I will say that when I talked to him and Homer through the process here, that whatever decision I made, they were comfortable with.

When do you want to have a new coach in place?

That’s a good question. I’m not going to fast track anything here. I would like to have a guy in place by the draft. I guess that's the goal, but I’m not going to do things quickly. We’re going to do our due diligence and look at essentially the whole landscape, and come up with the coach that we feel is the right guy. I’m not going to do something in the next couple of weeks for sure.

Do you need a guy with NHL experience?

Well, I think in a perfect world that’s one of the things you look for, but that’s not mandatory. Again, we’re going to look at every candidate we feel merits looking at, and we’ll go through it from there. Again, is it nice, yes ... is it imperative, I’d say no.

How much did the relationships between Berube and some of his players play into your decision?

I’m not one of those guys that necessarily looks at the players and are the players happy or are they unhappy. I think in the end, a coach’s job is to get the most out of his players, and in the end that’s the conclusion that I came to, was that that wasn’t the case. I will say this — Craig Berube is a good friend of mine, he’s a terrific man, and the professional side of this, I have an obligation to the organization to do what I think is best, and that’s what I did. Obviously there’s a personal side here and a man lost his job here, and no one obviously likes that.

What was your conversation like with Craig?

As Craig is as a man, he was stoic. It was a fairly brief conversation, and that was it. But he was stoic.

When you talked to the players, how did they feel?

I didn’t ask one player about the coach. So I didn’t get a feel one way or the other.

What strengths did Craig have as a coach that made this a tough decision?

If it wasn’t a tough decision it would have been done on Sunday. It was a tough decision. I believe Craig is an NHL coach and will go on to be an NHL coach. But like I said, in the end it’s more collectively as a group, it’s getting the most out of each individual and then collectively pulling that effort together, and in the end squeezing the most out of your team. And that’s the part that I just felt like in the end, it wasn’t enough.

On finding a coach that can handle both younger and older players

I think as an NHL coach you have to have the ability to do both — get the most out of your veterans and intersect your young players into the lineup. Obviously with some of the prospects we have coming, part of the thought process in the new coach is can he get the most out of young players, and is he open to putting young players in the lineup. So that will certainly be part of the thought process moving forward.

Why didn’t you ask the players about Berube?

Because it’s a feel. It’s about the evidence on the ice. Obviously you talk to the players, you get a feel about the team, but I didn’t specifically ask players about the coach. I don’t think that’s fair to the coach, because certain players really like the coach and certain players don’t. So if you start asking pinpointing questions, I don’t think it’s fair in the analysis of a coach.

Will past history with the Flyers play any role in who you do or don’t hire?

We’re looking for the right guy. Whether he has connections or not is not going to be part of the equation. I don’t care about that. We’re looking for the best coach possible to coach our team moving forward.

Do you feel like (in 2012-13) he got the most possible out of the team, and if you feel that way, why do you think it didn’t happen this year?

It’s really hard to say. When he took over three games into the season last year, and I think for everybody it’s a bit of a kick in the butt ... so do I think he did a good job last year? Yes. This year, obviously things didn’t go as well, so you take the whole piece of pie. ... I don’t think you evaluate a coach on 20 games or 40 games, you’ve got to evaluate him on the whole ball of wax. Here, we felt over two seasons that a change was needed.

Would you prefer a more offensive or a different look to the team as far as systems?

I was fine with the system. It’s more at times the execution. You have to check in the game today or you can’t win. So you have to check. Obviously you have to score goals too ... you have to get pucks to the net, you have to make plays. I didn’t have an issue with the system. Systems all work. It comes down to who executes the best and who’s the most consistent. So I was fine with the system.

Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

Former Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald to attend Flames training camp on professional tryout

After being bought out by the Flyers in mid-June, Andrew MacDonald is getting his next shot.

The soon-to-be 33-year-old defenseman will try to make the Flames' roster by attending Calgary's training camp on a professional tryout.

NHL teams often take fliers on veteran players as they shape their rosters because it simply can't hurt. The Flyers are doing so this training camp with winger Chris Stewart (see story).

While he wasn't a fan favorite in Philadelphia because of his contract, MacDonald was one of the most respected players in the Flyers' dressing room. You'd think the Flames are taking into account what they've heard from others around the league about MacDonald and his impact off the ice.

MacDonald has played 586 career games and 23 in the postseason. Calgary has won just one playoff series over the past 10 seasons. During 2018-19, the Flames went 50-25-7 with 107 points during the regular season — second best in the NHL to only the Lightning — but were bounced in the first round of the playoffs.

Calgary has a pretty strong defense, led by James Norris Memorial Trophy winner Mark Giordano, so making the roster won't be easy for MacDonald.

The Flyers bought out MacDonald for better cap flexibility and to open the door for some of their younger defensemen to take the next step. With the additions of Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, the Flyers have solid, accomplished guys to augment the younger group of Shayne Gostisbehere, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Philippe Myers, Robert Hagg and Samuel Morin.

"This guy is a consummate professional," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said of MacDonald in June. "We asked a lot of Andrew and by that I mean he was a player that played the left side, played the right side, he'd be a healthy scratch and then we'd put him back in the lineup. We asked him to play with young players and mentor them and bring stability to our back end.

"He's just a quality person and a guy that played a very effective two-way game for our team, but we are in a cap world and we made that tough decision today to try reallocate some of those dollars to maximize our chance to stay in the hunt on some players."

The Flyers will pay MacDonald $1,916,667 in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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Little boy preciously confuses Flyers mascot Gritty for Cookie Monster

Little boy preciously confuses Flyers mascot Gritty for Cookie Monster

Gritty will take this as a compliment.

After all, who doesn't love Cookie Monster? The big, blue, furry creature eats cookies for all three meals of the day — that's living.

Gritty knows how to live, too. The Flyers' mascot was confused for the Sesame Street character by an adorable little boy admiring Cookie Mon--err, Gritty on the cover of Philadelphia Magazine.

The video was posted on Twitter Tuesday morning by @shegabstoomuch.

"Whoaaaaaa," the little boy says in awe.

"Wow, who is that?" he's asked.

"Cookie Monster!"

Tremendous.

Gritty will not endure a sophomore slump in 2019-20. He has been working on his figure this summer, staying in shape for the upcoming season.

Does he sneak in a cookie from time to time? Of course he does.

So our little guy wasn't far off.


(Eric Hartline/USA Today Images)

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