Ron Hextall and Steve Coates sat down for a little one-on-one chat last week, and the Flyers general manager opened up on a range of different topics. We'll touch on some of the other topics later, but his comments about the team's defensive unit were the most interesting, so let's get right to that.
'We're gonna groom that guy from within'
When viewing Hextall's comments about the Flyers defense, let's view it like a sandwich.
First you have a bland, dry piece of bread, where Hextall is being as diplomatic as he can be. If the general manager of an NHL team came out and said his defense sucked, he'd lose the support of his players and probably his bosses.
He can't do that, so we get things like this:
I like our defense. I know people criticize our defense but we've got some good pieces. We've got a nice mixture of puck-moving and defensive guys.
But once you peel off that bread, you get to the meat. Or, his real opinion on how he's hoping to fix the defense:
People talk about us missing the top guy. I don't disagree with that. Not for a second. We miss that but for us to say "well ok, let's go out and grab that No. 1 defenseman." You're picking two or three or four pieces out of our lineup slash our young prospects there to acquire that guy, and then how do you feel these holes?
So we're gonna groom that guy, hopefully, from within.
Then he follows it up with more bread:
But again, I'm very comfortable with our defense. We've got a lot of leadership, we've got good power play guys, good penalty killers. We might be missing that 26-27 minute horse but we've got a real solid group of guys back there.
Overall translation: the Flyers have some work to do on defense and as Hextall has said all along since getting the job as Flyers general manager, he's going to find the answers to his problems in this department through one of his prospects.
That means no silly trades for Shea Weber (let it die for God's sake) or Zach Bogosian or whoever the hell else. The Flyers will fix their blue line with their own homegrown prospects.
And unfortunately for the 2014-15 season, that probably means that we're stuck with the defensive unit we see today. At least unless one of those young prospects wows the team in camp or during the AHL season and earns a call-up.