PHILADELPHIA – When the subject of Ron Hextall’s firing on Monday came up at Tuesday’s press conference at the Wells Fargo Center, the word “unyielding’’ came up often.
The perception, at least from Flyers president Paul Holmgren’s side of the table, seemed to be that Hextall wasn’t willing to give an inch on his plan to build this team from the bottom up, no matter how long it took.
Apparently there was some sort of showdown between the two men, and Hextall wasn’t about to make any concessions.
“Are there things Ron was thinking about doing to the team?’’ Holmgren said. “I don’t know.
“He was unyielding in his plan and remained that way. Good for him. He’s a well-thought out, deep-thinking guy. He put us in a good position. I think in order to put the team in better position moving forward, we needed to do what we did.”
The very fact that Holmgren praised Hextall for sticking to his guns tells you something about the fraternity of guys who have worn the Flyers’ logo on their chests over the past 50 years.
Let’s face it, every former Flyer great put in a position of authority has been fired over the years: Bob Clarke as general manager, Bill Barber as coach, Holmgren as coach and now Hextall as GM.
It happens to the best of them.
In his original statement on Monday, Holmgren said the main reason for the firing was due to philosophical differences.
He expanded on that Tuesday.
“Hexy in his time as general manager has put this organization in a good spot,’’ Holmgren said. “With the young players that are in place right now and our farm system, our prospect cupboard is full. There’s cap space, which is always a good thing.
“Having said that, I just felt in the best interest in the organization, it was time to move on, look for a new voice with a different mindset that can push the team to the next level.”
Comcast Spectacor CEO Dave Scott added: “For me, I just boiled it down to one question: ‘Do I think we can do better as a team now, not in two years or three years, but now?’ I think that answer is yes.”
Who made the final call?
“I can tell you that we talked a lot about this,’’ Scott said. “Ultimately, it was Paul’s recommendation and I supported Paul.”
According to Holmgren, this was not a knee-jerk decision. There were storm clouds on the horizon for a while.
“I don’t know if there was any one point over the last while,’’ Holmgren said. “There’s a tipping point. Dave and I have had a lot of conversation over the last number of weeks about where we’re at and where we’re going.
“We are one-quarter of the way through the season. There’s a lot of hockey to be played. Maybe there’s things to be done. Maybe with a different mindset in the general manager position, we can push this thing forward.”
Were the Flyers disappointed with the development of Hextall’s draft picks?
Because only five players – Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Nolan Patrick, Travis Sanheim and Oskar Lindblom – are currently on the Flyers’ roster.
“Personally, I like the mix we have now,’’ Scott said. “The vets. . .and Konecny is playing so well now. I think we need some more consistency out of a few guys.
“The fact that we can sort of pull people up, it’s nice to have that luxury and see what you see.’’
Scott doesn’t sound interested in breaking up the “30-Club’’ of Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds just yet.
“G is having such a good season,’’ Scott said. “Jake is Jake and Wayne is on the last year of his contract, so we’ll see how that goes.’’
Like Holmgren, Scott seemed to grudgingly admire Hextall’s unwillingness to back down.
Things were coming to a head this season.
“This is year five for him,’’ Scott said. “I think there was more pressure on him to perform.
“I’ll give Ron this, he was very consistent and very confident in his own judgment. I sat in a lot of meetings with him and his plan was his plan. I guess we’re hoping for a little more openness going forward.’’
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