Ron Hextall being let go as General Manager of the Flyers earlier on Monday came as a shock to many. While some expected some changes to be made, relieving a GM midseason isn’t something that happens too frequently; the last one occurred in 2013 when Columbus relieved Scott Howson of his duties. Instead, usually the head coach takes the fall or a substantial trade is made to shake up the core but that isn’t happening here, at least for now. There has been plenty of mixed reaction to this around the hockey world today, some of which are highlighted below.
- Kevin Allen of USA Today suggests that Hextall’s inability to find a long-term solution between the pipes was his biggest failing as GM. While there is certainly optimism surrounding Carter Hart, he may still be a couple of years away from being ready to make an NHL impact after a slow start in the minors. Rather than change things up this summer, he opted to stay with veterans Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth and the two have helped lead Philadelphia to a league-worst save percentage. (Both happen to be injured at the moment as well.)
- Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News believes that while a change needed to be made, this wasn’t it. He notes that Hextall had finally alleviated their long-time salary cap concerns and had positioned themselves to make a trade of significance in the days to come. He also speculates that a new GM could come in and clean house behind the bench which could create another potential landing spot for former Chicago bench boss Joel Quenneville.
- Mike Sielski, also of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, opines that Philadelphia’s playoff berths in 2016 and 2018 were ultimately counterproductive as Hextall was still in the process of reshaping and building up their infrastructure. However, the fact that they made the postseason created a level of urgency and impatience which goes against Hextall’s patient approach.
- TSN’s Frank Seravalli notes (video link) that in Hextall’s tenure as GM, there wasn’t a single trade made to significantly bolster their talent level – they were filling holes, clearing cap space, or building for the future. As a result, his legacy will ultimately be complicated – while the team is better positioned for the long-term now compared to when he took over, his teams will largely be remembered for their mediocrity and inability to live up to expectations.