Paul Holmgren’s phone should be ringing off the hook (does that line still work in the age of cell phones?) with calls about the Flyers’ open GM position.
The team president is aware that not only are folks seeking employment with a well-looked-upon organization, they’re also potentially coming into a good situation in terms of talent and salary cap space.
If not for some big question marks at the goaltending position and a roster that might be a little short of Broad Street Bullies standard in the physical department, the current Flyers belong in a contender’s spot.
As team president, Holmgren has to decide if the new guy can turn around a program that was developing on a patient timeline and get it moving toward contention a little quicker.
Or, as Holmgren and Comcast Spectacor CEO Dave Scott put it during Tuesday’s post-Ron Hextall firing press conference, “win now.’’
So, mindful that accelerating the process can have its side effects, here is our list of “dos and don’ts’’ for the incoming executive:
>**Do:** Find a healthy, proven goaltender who can successfully bridge the gap to Carter Hart over the next season or two. Both Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth are on the final years of contracts, are over 30 and have been getting injured a lot, so it’s time to bring in somebody in their 20s – by trade or free agency – who can hold the fort until Hart is ready.
>**Don’t:** Spend a fortune on the aforementioned netminder. Yes, the Flyers have a history of going on the cheap for goalies but there should be a quality guy out there in the $4-5-million range who can get the job done, whether it’s a trade or free agency. And if it’s a trade, don’t unload anybody over the age of 25.
>**Do:** Get Ivan Provorov signed. While Hextall said that Provorov is “strong mentally,’’ something has been bothering him this season. His numbers are way off. It looks and feels like he’s distracted. Provorov is in the final year of his rookie contract and is going to make big money. He has a chance to be one of the Flyers’ all-time greats. Make him happy.
>**Don’t:** Go too far off course on Hextall’s vision. Don’t forget, the Flyers put together a 98-point season in 2017-18 using four different goaltenders. And this year they’ve already suited up five. So judge the talent for what it is. Especially the young guys. If the company believes it’s necessary to spend more money on incoming veteran talent, remind them that the Konecnys and the Lindbloms and the Patricks eventually will be the core of this team.
>**Do:** Carefully examine the choices that are out there for coach before deciding Dave Hakstol’s fate. While a Joel Quenneville and Todd McLellan have enjoyed success in the past, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a repeat here. New general managers like to bring in “their own guy’’ so maybe we’re just whistling in a wind storm here but it might be helpful to get input from Holmgren and Scott before making a final decision.
>**Don’t:** Insulate yourself from advisors and scouts when it comes to making decisions. Yes, you’re new to Philadelphia and the inner workings of the organization, so make it a habit to communicate with everyone from the team president to the team stickboy. That might not have been the case with the last guy. The Flyers are going outside the team to get some new thinking but that doesn’t mean you have to ignore the team’s heritage.
>**Do:** Keep active with the analytics, which is the direction hockey seems to be going these days. If your name is Chuck Fletcher (former Minnesota Wild GM) or Ron Francis (former Carolina Hurricane GM), you’re already aware how important this facet of the game can be.
>**Don’t** Give in to public pressure, be it social media, talk radio, newspapers, whatever. Philly is a tough town. And when the fans’ displeasure affects the business bottom line, there’s a temptation to want to make shoot-from-the-hip moves. Try to block out the static.
Last but not least, make hockey around here fun again. The last four years under Hextall weren’t overly serious but there weren’t a lot of smiles, either. Treat players and staff like professionals and they will return the favor.