PHILADELPHIA – So where do they go from here?
One day after the Flyers fired Ron Hextall as their general manager and executive vice-president, the team held a press conference at the Wells Fargo Center to discuss their future.
Team president Paul Holmgren and Comcast Spectacor CEO Dave Scott fielded a load of questions, with the future of the team – specifically a new GM – heading the list.
Holmgren, who will be doing the hiring, indicated he’s already been making and taking calls about the position.
A few things you should know right off the bat:
/> The search, according to Scott, is expected to “take weeks, not months.’’
/> The new man, said Holmgren, is likely to come from outside the organization.
/> The Flyers are in “win now’’ mode, Scott offered, “not years from now.’’
There are several names floating around out there, such as ex-Carolina Hurricanes GM Ron Francis and ex-Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher.
But it sounds like the Flyers are willing to go outside the obvious choices to get their next guy.
“Our number one priority going forward is getting this new GM hired,’’ Scott said. “Paul is an experienced leader, he’s been with us 40 years.
“He’s so well-liked and respected in the organization. He’s going to do a great job heading up this search. I can tell you I’m committed to getting the right fit long-term for the Flyers organization.’’
Without question, Holmgren will be getting input from veteran hockey people like senior vice-president Bob Clarke and others.
“To have someone that age and that wisdom, that means a lot,’’ Scott said. “Right now I think everyone is leaning in and wants to take the organization to the next level.’’
Both Holmgren and Scott emphasized the need for new thinking from a person outside the organization.
The last time the Flyers had that was when Russ Farwell was in town from 1990-94. He came straight out of the junior Seattle Thunderbirds (Western Hockey League).
“I think because of our legacy, we’ve had so many come up through the system,’’ Scott said. “Paul Holmgren is the poster child and done a great job.
“It’s always nice to get that other perspective. That’s one thing we appreciated about Ron, spending seven years in L.A. I think you learn some different things.’’
Scott was asked how important, if at all, it is for the new GM and upper management to be on the same page. Hextall and the folks upstairs obviously drifted apart this past year or so.
“The GM really has to have the autonomy to do his job,’’ Scott said. “I feel really strongly about that.
“At the same time, they have to be willing to listen and hear what people are saying. That’s all I ask for, that somebody is listening to our voices.’’
Any way you cut it, the new GM will have his hands full. Sounds like Holmgren and Scott want him to be proactive.
“I think you have to look at everything,’’ Scott said. “We’re very focused on the trade deadline coming up Feb. 25th. We think there’s going to be some opportunities out there and frankly, we don’t want to miss out.”
Holmgren was GM of the Flyers from 2006 to 2014. He was a bit of a wheeler-dealer. Hextall is more cautious. According to Holmgren there is no right or wrong way. But maybe the new guy will be sort of a hybrid of the two styles.
“If you look at the difference between Ron and I, we had a lot of debate — I was an aggressive guy and Ron was more of a deep thought-out (GM).
“I think both approaches have qualities, good qualities. Both approaches probably have bad qualities, when you go right down to it. But, you know, we’re here to do what’s right. In my mind, and I think in Dave’s mind, what’s right for the organization. We are in the process of moving forward.’’
Scott wants to get things back on track in a hurry.
“We’re looking for bright, energetic, strategic thinkers,’’ he said. “But also, balancing that with a bias for action and really making some things happen.
“We want to get the right fit but it’s a full-court press.’’