Flyers fire GM Hextall, host Senators
Mired in mediocrity, the Flyers stunned the hockey world and fired general manager Ron Hextall Monday.
The coaching staff remains the same.
For now, anyway.
“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,” club president Paul Holmgren said in a statement. “In light of these differences, we feel it’s in the organization’s best interest to make a change, effective immediately.”
Holmgren said he will hold a news conference Tuesday, before the Flyers (10-11-2 and hanging around near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings) host the Ottawa Senators — the visitors on the second half of a back-to-back that began with a 4-2 loss to the Rangers in New York.
Hextall was in his fifth season running the Flyers — and the team failed to win a playoff series under his watch.
Ironically, Hextall, a former star goaltender with the team, was never able to settle the team’s goaltending situation. This year, injuries have led to Philly using five goalies in the first 23 games.
In addition, James van Riemsdyk, the club’s big free agent signee, missed 16 games when injured in the second game of the season.
“You have to feel responsible; we’re the ones playing the games,” Jake Voracek said of the firing. “It’s obviously something you don’t want to see, but it’s a business.”
The Flyers, coming out of a 5-0-1 run, are 1-4-1 in their last six games and have been blanked in their last two — by a 10-0 count.
Added van Riemsdyk: “This is an organization that has very high standards for itself, and when we’re kind of underachieving on the ice, stuff like this can happen.”
Voracek scored two goals and dished out three assists and Scott Laughton scored twice in the Flyers’ 7-4 win in Ottawa Oct. 10 — that victory coming a night after an embarrassing 8-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Philly’s home opener.
The Senators tightened things up in their own end Monday but still dropped their fourth straight, the third on the current four-game road trip. They are 9-12-3 on the season, just 2-8-1 on the road.
Mark Stone scored both goals for the Senators, who allowed 54 shots on goal at Dallas Friday night but cut that down to 33 Monday. Stone has seven goals in the last 10 games.
“If you watch us the last three games it was about as bad as it could get,” Stone said. “We made steps in the right direction tonight. You can’t just re-right the ship in one day. Tonight was a step in the right direction.”
Said Zack Smith: “I thought we made strides. I thought we were better. “We’ve got a few mistakes we need to clean up but we’re seeing where we need to be and what we need to do to get where we’re going.”
Craig Anderson played his sixth straight game Monday. Lifetime against the Flyers, he is 12-7-3 with a 2.89 goals-against average and .916 save percentage. Mike McKenna, the backup as Mike Condon makes his way back from an injury suffered Nov. 9, has appeared in only four games, starting one.
The Senators won on their only visit to Wells Fargo last season.