Well, somebody got fired today, even if it wasn’t the person we expected. After four-and-a-half years as the club’s general manager, Ron Hextall was let go by the Philadelphia Flyers this morning. It’s not the thing many fans wanted to see happen (or at least not before another person still with the team was let go), but it’s what happened. After a move that has jolted the hockey world, what’s next?
First of all, who is Hextall’s replacement? At the moment, there are two former NHL general managers still in the organization: Paul Holmgren and Dean Lombardi. Both options are probably going to be more reactionary and active in terms of growing a better NHL product. Despite his good moments here, Holmgren is most likely not the best option to trust with a cupboard of prospects and plenty of draft picks. The Kings don’t have the best outlook right now, and a lot of that is due to Lombardi’s work once Hextall left. It feels as though it’s likely one of these two are the interim (or next) general managers of the Flyers. A third option would be Chris Pryor, who joined the Flyers’ franchise as a scout back in 1999 and has worked his way up to his current roles of assistant general manager and director of player personnel. He’s done a pretty decent job in terms of drafting recently, so putting him in charge might keep the Flyers’ mentality of drafting and developing in place, but change the outlook on improving the NHL team’s worth. He would be the top choice for the ‘giving the guy an opportunity’ path from within the organization. Another option could be Barry Hanrahan, who has been with the Flyers since the 1997-98 season and has been the team’s assistant general manager since the 2005-06 campaign. He’s another option for giving a guy a chance from within. For options outside the organization, we’ll be looking at those options over the next few hours (and days).
Next, does the organization keep the coaches around? Most (if not all) the fanbase has grown tired of Dave Hakstol as the head coach and Ian Laperriere as the penalty kill coach, and there might be the possibility Paul Holmgren let go of Hextall because of his commitment to Hakstol and Laperriere. Hextall also brought in Kris Knoblauch to run the power play after he let go of Joe Mullen, which, in his second year running the man advantage, hasn’t exactly impressed. If there was an argument for any of the three to stay with the team, Knoblauch’s case is probably the strongest. However, more times than not a new general manager wants his own guys behind the bench, so there’s a good chance all three are gone. If all three are still here after whatever comes with the changes that go hand-in-hand with firing a general manager, this franchise has lost all it’s god damn marbles. Not to mention there are coaching options out there who have better resumes (JOEL QUENNEVILLE) who will most likely get more out of this team.
Lastly, what does this mean for the roster? It feels as though the first order of business would be the interim/new GM would make a deal to land some type of actual NHL-level goalie rather than the oft-injured stopgaps currently with the franchise. From who or where, Bill recently laid out some options. Wayne Simmonds has been a Flyer many fans have pointed to as an asset to trade rather than giving out a contract extension. With somebody else coming into the fold, is Simmonds gone within the next month or is he here for another five seasons? With Brayden Schenn dealt at the 2017 NHL Draft, one of the team’s core pieces that was assembled for the 2011-12 season has already been jettisoned. Will another one go when the new general manager comes in? Hextall may have (definitely) sat on his hands and was patient when it came to making franchise-altering moves. There’s no guarantee the next person in charge follows those guidelines, so it seems as though the mentality of anything is on the table could be put back into place.
Following Saturday’s loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, there was a feeling from the fans that there was no way nothing would happen after that embarrassment. There’s a good chance not many people felt as though it was the last game Hextall would watch as the team’s general manager, but here we are. At the moment, anything is possible for the Flyers, which is both interesting and scary.