The Philadelphia Flyers’ season has not gone according to plan, and now someone has been forced to pay the price. The team announced today that they have fired General Manager Ron Hextall, and will begin a search immediately for his replacement. Team president Paul Holmgren will be leading that search, and released this statement about the decision to fire Hextall:
The Flyers organization has decided to relieve Ron Hextall of his duties as Executive Vice President and General Manager. We thank Ron for his many significant contributions, but it has become clear that we no longer share the same philosophical approach concerning the direction of the team. In light of these differences, we feel it’s in the organization’s best interests to make a change, effective immediately. I have already begun a process to identify and select our next General Manager, which we hope to complete as soon as possible.
Not very often in the NHL do you see a GM fired before his coach, which led to plenty of speculation around the hockey world that Hextall had either refused to fire Dave Hakstol or wanted to and was not allowed by upper management. It’s not clear yet how the whole situation played out, but there were obvious differences of opinion in the front office on where the team should be and how to get there. The Flyers were recently demolished by the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-0 but notably took zero penalties in the entire match. When paired with the crumbling powerplay and penalty kill of the Flyers, those even-strength struggles likely accelerated this decision, especially given the lofty expectations of the Flyers this season.
After showing well last year and taking the Pittsburgh Penguins to game six in the first round, the Flyers were hopeful that they would take another step forward and challenge for the Metropolitan Division title. Instead, they now sit seventh in the division at 10-11-2 and are in danger of falling too far behind the playoff pack entirely. With that in mind, it doesn’t come as a total surprise that they would make a big change.
Darren Dreger of TSN tweets that former Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher and former Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis are early candidates to take over in Philadelphia. Both were recently pushed out of their respective situations but are well respected around the league.