Twisting hindsight is just so easy, practically everyone can use it to their advantage, and NHL scouts and team management is probably at the top of that list. No matter what transaction was made, or department choice, there will be fingers pointed at other people, or at themselves, to give blame or credit to for past transgressions.
Speaking of which: Bobby Clarke.
The Philadelphia Flyers legend appeared on “The Cam & Strick Podcast,” hosted by St. Louis Blues reporter Andy Strickland and longtime NHLer Cam Janssen; and proceeded to delve into details on Ron Hextall’s time as the GM of the Flyers.
“[Hextall] alienated everybody, right away,” Clarke said. “He shut his door, he locked the doors; he was the boss and nobody else was part of it. We end up getting the second pick in the draft, and we end up drafting Nolan Patrick. None of our scouts wanted Nolan Patrick. I don’t know where Patrick should have gone, after his performances in Brandon — he’s a pretty good player. But certainly, they wanted Makar. Of course he went next. Now he’s a superstar and Patrick hasn’t played. But Hextall made that choice himself, and there were other choices that were made at our drafts that we’re paying for. We have two or three first-round picks that are never going to play, and that’s why we’re struggling. Hextall made some huge mistakes.”
After Clarke was focusing on the prospects taken by the Flyers, the host of the podcast chimed in about trading Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues, and Clarke has his chance to reflect on it as well.
“That was just as bad,” he said. “Nobody knew it. [Hextall] made that on his own. All our scouts who were at the draft; our scouts were so mad at [Hextall] for doing that. We also had the chance to get [Ryan] O’Reilly from Buffalo, but we didn’t. Obviously, that was the manager’s decision, but it was another one that the scouts weren’t consulted on.”
The whole debate between Patrick and Makar (or Miro Heiskanen, if you want to pick your poison) has already been discussed at length, and that information regarding the opinion of Flyers scouts, was already widely available. Whether those are actually the facts, or if the people that were not listened to, are just louder about it because one player is already three years deep into a Hall of Fame-bound career and the other has been tossed into a trade already, is unclear. I would probably be yelling from every hilltop too, if my employer had the chance to pick Makar and they decided to not go with it.
What’s done is done, but in addition to the prospects, there was also the lasting tidbit that the readily available top centerman in O’Reilly, was almost a member of the Flyers and Hextall opted not to. Not making the decision to give up assets for a player is one thing, not discussing it (according to Clarke) with other members of your management team, is a worrying sign.
Well, good thing that Hextall is no longer a part of this organization, if these allegations are true. Instead, he’s operating the archrival Pittsburgh Penguins and we can only hope that he is making even more bone-headed decisions over there. And bonus: Scouts that were outspoken, and wanted Makar, are still employed by our favorite hockey club. It’s a win-win really — except the “not having Cale Makar” part — or trying to make the people still a part of the Flyers, look good.
All we can hope for is that they don’t make those decisions again.