VOORHEES, N.J. – Anyone who thought the Flyers would just sit still while they look to hire a new general manager should probably think again.
Team president Paul Holmgren wasted no time Wednesday – two days after firing former GM Ron Hextall — putting on his “temporary’’ GM hat to fire director of player personnel Chris Pryor and assistant coach Gord Murphy, who handled the team’s defense corps.
Holmgren consulted embattled head coach Dave Hakstol before making the decision on Murphy, which might offer a clue as to where things are going with this coaching staff.
“I feel like I’ve always had good input and communication,’’ Hakstol said after Wednesday’s practice at the Skate Zone.
“Everybody has been supportive here through some hard days. The process that’s in place going forward. . .Paul has to go through the process of hiring the next GM. That GM has to come in and make his decision. You probably want something sexier than that but that’s just the real world.’’
The Pryor dismissal did not raise a lot of eyebrows because he was Hextall’s righthand man.
But canning Murphy did.
Then again, maybe not, simply because the Flyers’ defense has not looked that steady this year, particular their top two – Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov.
And, overall, the Flyers rank 30th in the NHL in goals allowed per game.
Gostisbehere, who finished in the top five in scoring among NHL defensemen last season, currently has just three goals and 11 points with a minus-13 in 24 games.
Provorov, who tied for the NHL lead for goals by a defenseman with 17, has just two so far, along with only seven points and a minus-4.
Neither Holmgren nor Murphy was made available for comment but Gostisbehere was.
“It’s tough times right now,’’ Gostisbehere said. “Not winning a lot of games. It’s out of our control. I wish him (Murphy) the best. We’ve got a lot of season left and we will try to turn it around.
“He (Murphy) was my first D-coach in the NHL. He helped me a lot. Completed my game. On the defensive side, he was a pretty good motivator.’’
Can anything be read into Hakstol getting involved in the Murphy move?
“The decision was made this morning in a meeting between Paul and myself,’’ Hakstol said.
“Obviously there are hard decisions being made right now. In discussion between Paul and I the decision was made based on what we felt was best for our group on the back end moving forward.’’
Hakstol declined to get into specifics about Murphy’s job rating on the staff or how it impacted Gostisbehere or Provorov.
“I don’t want to get into any specific issues,’’ Hakstol said. “I don’t think that’s fair to Murph, who’s one heck of a man and a coach. He’s been a great mentor for me.’’
Later, Hakstol said the Flyers said they haven’t addressed a possible replacement for Murphy. The Flyers don’t play again until Saturday night in Pittsburgh.
“We’ll take a couple days to make that decision,’’ Hakstol said. “My goal right now will be to hire a different coach into that position.
“We (Holmgren and Hakstol) will do that together. Communication is everything. We’re working to do those things together.’’
The Flyers also announced on Wednesday that they have placed goaltender Calvin Pickard on waivers.
It appears that Michal Neuvirth is about to be cleared to return (Brian Elliott is still out indefinitely), so Pickard was expendable.
Pickard, picked up on waivers from Toronto just as the season began, played in 11 games with a 4-2-2 record, a 4.01 goals-against average and .863 save percentage.
“That’s a move that we felt we needed to make,’’ said Hakstol. “He’s done a good job for us. He’s been a great teammate for everybody, gone in and battled really hard for us.’’
For now, it appears Edison, N.J. native Anthony Stolarz will stay with the Flyers. He was on the losing end of Tuesday night’s 4-3 meltdown loss to Ottawa.
As for Neuvirth, it seems like nothing is ever certain with him. He’s a walking anatomy book of potential injuries.
“He is getting closer,’’ Hakstol said. “I would put him in the day-to-day category, I’m not sure when he’s going to be ready. He hasn’t played a lot of hockey (one regular-season game).’’
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