PHILADELPHIA—Caught at a crossroads between a full-blown rebuild and a legitimate playoff push, the Philadelphia Flyers fired general manager Ron Hextall yesterday—the latest front-office leader to fail to win the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 44 years.
The Flyers might not be done cleaning house.
Coach Dave Hakstol now has lost his biggest backer and his job clearly is in danger.
The Flyers have a 10-11-2 record and have lost five-of-six. They are fresh off a 6-0 loss to Toronto in which an organization once stamped as “Broad Street Bullies” played without a penalty.
“I feel a responsibility for what happened today,” Hakstol said.
“Nobody feels good about that in our room.”
Hextall, a popular Flyers' goalie in the 1980s and '90s, was dismissed after four-and-a-half seasons on the job in which he tried to revive a depleted farm system and patiently build a championship contender.
Flyers' president Paul Holmgren thanked Hextall 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.”
He added that an immediate change was in the team's best interests and he hopes to have a new GM “as soon as possible.”
The Flyers play tonight against Ottawa at home where a once-rabid fan base has stayed away from Wells Fargo Center in droves, and the ones that come serenade another listless loss chanting “Fire Hakstol!”
Holmgren and Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said they wouldn't comment until a news conference scheduled for today.
The new GM will make the call on the fate of the coaching staff. Former Chicago Blackhawks' Stanley Cup champion coach Joel Quenneville is available after he was fired this season.
Former L.A. Kings' GM Dean Lombardi, who won two Cups, is a former Flyers' scout who returned this season to assist the front office.
Hakstol ran practice yesterday.
“I'm not looking over my shoulder," he said. ”I never have. I never do.
“I focus on the job at hand and going forward," he stressed. "Those are decisions that aren't up to me.”
Hextall's ouster could be tied in to his steadfast support of Hakstol, the coach he hired with no NHL experience out of North Dakota in 2015.