The Philadelphia Flyers have fired Ron Hextall.
Unfortunately for Hextall, it was a tough move, but it had to be done.
The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the worst teams in the NHL. Currently, they own a 10-12-2 record and are dead last in the Metropolitan Division. They’ve been having a lot of difficulty scoring goals. They average 3 goals per game; shockingly low for a team that has a lot of talent. Their roster is comprised of elite names like Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. It’s hard to fathom that they’ve been struggling this bad when the Flyers had three forwards produce at least 75 points last season.
Oddly enough, the Flyers defense has been abysmal as well. So far this season, they are third in Goals Against/Games Played (GA/GP). They are averaging 3.58 GA/GP. That isn’t just bad, it’s embarrassing.
After looking at the offensive and defensive struggles, it was evident that the Flyers needed a changing of the guard. Yet, we didn’t even get to the worst part – the goaltending situation. Buckle your seatbelt folks, it’s a bumpy ride. After 24 games, the Flyers have had five net-minders step bravely into the crease. Dave Hakstol, the head coach of the Flyers has used Calvin Pickard, Brian Elliott, Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon and Michal Neuvirth. Unfortunately, injuries happen and teams have to roll with the punches, but the performance of the aforementioned goalies has been ugly. They sport a combined 3.35 GAA and a .887 save percentage.
All-in-all, the Flyers had to cut Hextall loose.
Not The End Of The World
Before I go on, this isn’t the end of the world for the Philadelphia Flyers and their fanbase. They have great assets including Giroux, Voracek, Couturier and Shayne Gostisbehere. The front office just needs to make some difficult decisions in order to better the organization.
While there are great assets, there needed to be a change. Philadelphia is a tough city for sports. If you aren’t successful in Philly, the media doesn’t cut you any slack. Aside from Toronto, Boston, New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, it is easily one of the toughest cities for a GM to work in. If your squad isn’t doing well, it doesn’t get swept underneath the carpet. Unfortunately, Hextall didn’t have much success over a lengthy stretch and inevitably lost his job.
Who Is Next?
That being said, the next General Manager needs to have had experience playing a rigorous media market. If I were running the Philadelphia Flyers’ organization, my goal would be to hire Mark Hunter. Hunter served as the Assistant General Manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs and was previously relieved of his job. Prior to the Maple Leafs, he ran the operations for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League. With Hunter running the show, you can expect that he’ll surely know how to handle a tough media market like Philadelphia. In addition, he’s got a great eye for prospects and knows the OHL like the back of his hand.
That would be the first step. Once Hunter gets settled in his new role in the City of Brotherly Love, then he’ll need to make some tough decisions with his roster. He’ll have to make some critical decisions including what to do with pending UFA, Wayne Simmonds. Also, he’ll have to determine his goaltending situation. These aren’t simple decisions to make. They are complex. Yet, the Flyers front office should trust Hunter. He’s had the opportunity to sit next to Lou Lamoriello and study him. Hunter knows how to run a team and is just looking for someone to give him the keys.
stats from NHL.com and hockey-reference.com