November 26, 2018
The Flyers shocked the hockey world when they fired their general manager Ron Hextall amid a mediocre start to yet another NHL season.
Immediately after the news broke, hockey fans and insiders began pontificating on why the move happened. Many thought there might be a firesale of players instead, or a coaching change, or a move to bring up youth from the minors.
Why was Hextall the sacrificial lamb?
The language in the Flyers' official statement didn't parse words, saying it was "clear that we know longer share the same philosophical approach."
In parts of five seasons as the GM, the Flyers never won a playoff round. They also, rightly or wrongly, clung to the same core of players — Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmons, Jake Voracek and others — that failed to get them better than a third seed on their division.
The time had come for change.
There have been rumblings going back to the offseason that what Paul Holmgren wanted to see done on various fronts no longer jibed with Ron Hextall's determination to stay on the same course of main priorities. That was confirmed today both with the decision and related statement— Bill Meltzer (@billmeltzer) November 26, 2018
Or perhaps there is more to the story. Is there more to come?
I’d be surprised if the #Flyers’ new GM didn’t clean house among the coaches. Hexy may have been dismissed because he refused to fire Hak. We may never know.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) November 26, 2018
The #Flyers have decided to relieve GM Ron Hextall of his duties. other words fired. think this could be start of firing HC Dave Hakstol. I think they will let the New GM make decision. think Hextall would not fire Dave Hakstol, so maybe that why he had to go. @SportsRadioWIP— Howard Eskin (@howardeskin) November 26, 2018
That being said, you would have to expect Hakstol to be next. Hextall was his main champion in organization. Now that he's gone, gotta think coach goes too.— Kevin Cooney (@KevinCooney) November 26, 2018
Indeed, as the Flyers took to the ice Monday, it seemed like the other shoe was soon to drop on this "Black Monday."
Hmmm. Hak not on ice with players.— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) November 26, 2018
Some even think this was the wrong move, and cite several of Hextall's accomplishments that don't show up in the standings.
Firing GM Ron Hextall is not the correct move by the #Flyers. He made mistakes but got the it out of cap hell & rebuilt the farm system. The org is in MUCH better shape now than when he took over. He should have had a longer leash than he gave his own head coach. #FlyersTalk— Eric Goldstein (@ericesponda) November 26, 2018
Those takes seem to agree on one thing, the 10-11-2 Flyers, in 7th place currently, needed to do something.
The attendance for Flyers games at the Wells Fargo Center has dipped to its lowest since the 1995-96 season, which was played at the old Spectrum. Fans are no longer willing to pay to see a team play the exact same style of hockey, led by a GM who is seemingly hesitant to change.
Whether this shake up will lead to more shake ups — or lead to improved success — is anyone's guess. But in a city that has already gone though Chip Kelly's weird three years running the Eagles, Sam Hinkie's painful but eventually fruitful 'Process,' and a similarly slow-to-adapt Phillies squad in recent years, it seems about time the Orange and Black try something new.
GRITTY FOR GM— Enrico (@The700Level) November 26, 2018
Follow Evan on Twitter: @evan_macy
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports