Ron Hextall is the new Flyers general manager. It was announced this morning that he'll be taking over, and in a 30 minute long press conference, both Hextall and new team president Paul Holmgren cleared up a lot of stuff.
Let's run through the highlights.
This is Ron Hextall's hockey team
All hockey decisions fall on Ron Hextall. Hextall says he'll use Holmgren and Bob Clarke as a sounding board -- "I'd be an idiot not to," he said -- but Holmgren said that despite sitting up the food chain from Hextall in the organization, this is Hextall's hockey team. He makes the decisions. Period.
Holmgren: "All hockey decisions fall on Ron’s lap. No question. Full authority and autonomy."— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) May 7, 2014
Building, developing from within
The major change from Hextall to Holmgren? General philosophy on how to build a team.
It's not a secret that Holmgren was keen on trading for the best players available. He built the Flyers of the last few seasons through trade, and on the current roster, only Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Zac Rinaldo are regular, everyday players who were drafted by the club and developed in the organization. Matt Read and Michael Raffl could be included here if you're getting generous, even if they weren't drafted, and I guess Steve Downie, but not really.
That's changing under Hextall. The Flyers will be a team that develops prospects and builds from within. Hextall recognized the importance of such a style in a salary cap world, and OH MY GOD THANK YOU RON.
Hexy: "It’s not a vision of mine to trade young players for older players." Talking development, drafting and building the team that way.— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) May 7, 2014
Hextall: "Tell me one young player who was hurt with time in the AHL. I can tell you hundreds and hundreds that were hurt too soon in NHL."— Frank Seravalli (@DNFlyers) May 7, 2014
This isn't to say Hextall won't make trades, but it will not be the primary way he builds his hockey team.
Hextall on analytics: "That's where we're going. It's going to be a huge part of what we do going forward."— Frank Seravalli (@DNFlyers) May 7, 2014
Successful teams use advanced analytics to aid their decision-making. Bad teams -- like, for example, the Torotno Maple Leafs -- ignore them and even openly mock them. Of course, you need to use the data properly and smartly, but still. This is music to our ears.
Holmgren says he wasn't forced out
Paul Holmgren said that, contrary to popular belief, he wasn't forced out. The idea was his, and he raised it with Hextall in December before raising it with Ed Snider in January. He said he's looking forward to an expanded role on the business side of the Flyers organization, and that he'll also still have a say in hockey ops.
Take this at face value if you want, or don't. Really, it doesn't matter all that much. The Flyers have three general managers in their front office now, and that's not a bad thing.
"Our five-vs-five play needs to get better"
Maybe it's stating the obvious, but Hextall said these exact words. He said that at special teams the Flyers are top 10 in the league, but five-vs-five then need to be a better team. That's obvious to most of us. It's nice to hear it from the horse's mouth.