Players accept their share of blame for Hextall dismissal

Claude Giroux

VOORHEES, N.J. – If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times.

General manager gets fired or coach gets fired or stickboy gets fired and out comes a long procession of players to unabashedly take the blame.

Where was these guilt feelings when the Flyers didn’t take a single penalty, throw a solitary bodycheck or show some guts with a fistfight against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night?

Or Wednesday night in Buffalo, when they basically left a rookie goalie, Alex Lyon, out to dry in a “burn this tape’’ effort against the Sabres?

So, let the parade begin. Which it did around 11:30 Monday morning at the Skate Zone after word filtered down that GM Ron Hextall had been let go.

Three of the longest tenured veteran leaders on the team – Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Claude Giroux – took turns issuing mea culpas.

These guys also know they haven’t won a playoff series since 2012 and maybe Flyers’ management is getting a little tired of their act, too.

“I just found out,’’ Voracek said. “I don’t know the next step. Nobody is safe. It’s all about winning.’’

The Flyers understand the frustration of ownership, the fans, the media and so forth.

Something had to change. And it might not stop with Hextall. Coach Dave Hakstol and just about any player on the Flyers’ roster could be vulnerable to getting a new address.

“Everybody expected us to be in a different place in the standings than we are right now,’’ Voracek said. “It’s everybody – coaches, players. . .’’

Giroux has been captain of this team longer than anyone in the history of the Flyers except for Hall of Famer Bob Clarke.

Yet there are still questions about his leadership. Is he capable of holding teammates accountable the way former captains like Chris Pronger, Keith Primeau and Derian Hatcher once did?

Whatever the case, Giroux took his share of the blame, too.

“Anytime a coach, a GM gets fired, the players feel responsible,’’ Giroux said. “When you win games, this doesn’t happen.’’

Giroux acknowledged the way the Flyers lost in Buffalo and Toronto did nothing to help the situation.

“I’ve been here for a long time (drafted in 2006, started playing full time in 2008-09),’’ he said. “This organization is all about winning. When you’re not doing that, you think something is going to happen.

“We would like to have gone further in the playoffs. I think the players feel responsible here.’’

Simmonds said he was “shocked’’ by the news and had no clue it was coming.

“It’s unfortunate that we’ve underperformed as a team,’’ Simmonds said. “We have to take this upon ourselves and right the ship.’’

James van Riemsdyk just spent six years with the Maple Leafs and saw his share of turmoil during his stay there.

“I think when that sort of stuff happens, it gets everyone’s attention,’’ JVR said. “This (the Flyers) is an organization that sets very high standards for itself.

“When we’re underachieving on the ice, stuff like this can happen.’’

Giroux still believes the Flyers have the talent to turn their fortunes around. A lot has changed since his second season, when the Flyers went all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2010.

“When I came in the league, the Flyers had good teams,’’ he said. “I do believe we have a good team in here. We’re not getting it done. It’s something we need to focus on every day. Be consistent. Right now that’s not the case.’’

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About Wayne Fish 2444 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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